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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The Government is taking early steps to improve 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: rapid payments for claimants, a listening service, and easier provision to survivors of records of their time in care.
Later this year, work will also start 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.
The immediate projects and the apology were recommended in the Royal Commission's interim redress report.
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, four immediate projects will focus on priority areas identified by the Royal Commission.
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.
Options for rapid payments are expected to be considered by Ministers by October 2022.
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 November 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 November.
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 Government has asked the Crown Response Unit to start working on Crown apologies later this year.
Survivor groups, tikanga experts and representatives from other communities impacted by abuse in care will be involved.
Further recommendations relating to apologies may be made by the Royal Commission, and these will all be carefully considered.
The Royal Commission recommended that the design of the puretumu torowhānui redress system be done in collaboration with survivors and Māori.
Work has started on how we do this design process.
The first step is developing options for the collaborative design process. Targeted engagement with members of survivor communities is helping to identify how this design process might work. These options will go to Cabinet in September.
Following this, work will start on putting the agreed collaborative design process in place.
In 2023 it is expected there will be significant engagement around the proposed features of the new system, before any final decisions are made. This will ensure all survivors the opportunity to have their say on this important mahi.
This page will be updated as work progresses.