The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry will issue reports, including recommendations for change, throughout its four-year life. The Government intends to start work on those recommendations as they are made.
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Royal Commission interim report on redress
The report identified failings in the Crown’s approach to providing redress, which it says led to many years of avoidable harm for abuse survivors.
The report called for a new, independent, trauma-informed redress system to be developed for survivors of abuse in care. This would replace existing redress processes run by government agencies.
The Government has announced(external link) that it will develop a new independent system. The Crown Response Unit is now working on this, in collaboration with Māori and survivor groups.
This work will take time, as it is a complex task. Survivors of abuse in care have all had different experiences, and they have their own views on what the new system should look like.
While this work takes place, work is underway to improve support for survivors of abuse in care.
Improving support for survivors of abuse in care
The government is improving its support for survivors of abuse in care while a new independent redress system is being designed.
On 9 August 2022 Public Services Minister Hon Chris Hipkins announced(external link) that work was under way on three immediate projects:
Work is now underway on preparing a national apology to abuse in care survivors.
This work is being coordinated by the Crown Response Unit and guided by previous engagement with survivors, including the views of hundreds of survivors that informed the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry’s interim report on redress(external link), released in December 2021. Additional advice and guidance from survivors, experts and others will also be sought.
This project is looking at making faster payments to people facing long wait times to resolve their claims for abuse in State care.
The Royal Commission recommended that rapid payments be made to elderly and seriously ill claimants. The Government has asked officials to look into whether these payments can be offered to a broader group of claimants than the two recommended by the Royal Commission.
There are currently more than 3000 active claims for redress lodged with Government agencies – the majority are with the Ministry of Social Development’s Historic Claims Unit.
For now, nothing will change for survivors whose claims are being, or have been, processed by the existing historic claims' agencies. Claims agencies will let survivors know any changes affecting their claims in plenty of time.
Currently, survivors of abuse in care can contact the Royal Commission to share their experiences of harm in care and the impact of that harm. But the Royal Commission will close down in mid-2023, before the new independent redress system is established.
Therefore, a new listening service has been recommended. The service would provide safe, supportive, confidential place to share their care experiences. The design will use targeted consultation with survivor groups. It will draw on the experience of the Royal Commission process and the previous Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) for survivors, which ran from 2008 to 2015.
Proposals for a listening service are expected to be considered by Ministers in December 2022.
The Government is also considering how to improve survivors’ access to records of their time in care, following concerns raised during the Inquiry.
The Royal Commission found that many survivors had difficulty getting their records quickly and fully. The problems included lengthy delays, or getting incomplete or heavily redacted information.
The Government recognises there are many issues around the creation of, and access to, survivor records. As a first step, officials will work with survivors and experts on some immediate improvements to how survivors access their records.
Proposals for improved survivor access to records are expected to be considered by Ministers in December 2022.
The Royal Commission recommended the Crown and relevant faith-based organisations should publicly acknowledge and apologise for the tūkino, or abuse, inflicted and suffered after it has delivered its final report in June 2023. It also recommended some groups, including Māori who were over-represented in State care, should also receive specific apologies.
The Crown Response Unit has started working on Crown apologies and is involving:
Further recommendations relating to apologies may be made by the Royal Commission, and these will all be carefully considered.
Planning for the creation of a new redress system
The Crown Response Unit is calling for nominations for a Redress Design Group or an Advisory group to develop proposals for a new independent system, puretumu torowhānui focused on healing from trauma and abuse.
Nominations opened on Tuesday 22 November and will close 5pm Tuesday 13 December 2022.