Historical Abuse in State Care goes under scrutiny
RNZ & INL Staff
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand will chair a Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse in state care.
Ms Ardern and Minister for Children Tracey Martin provided details of the Inquiry, which was formally established on February 1, 2018.
“This is a chance to confront our history and make sure we do not make the same mistakes again. It is a significant step towards acknowledging and learning from the experiences of those who have been abused in state care,” Ms Ardern said.
Scope of Inquiry
The Royal Commission will cover circumstances where the state directly ran institutions such as child welfare institutions, borstals or psychiatric hospitals, and where the government contracted services out to other institutions. Groups of survivors have said they want an inquiry to cover places like religious institutions and sports clubs.
Following a consultation period, the Cabinet will make a final decision on the terms of reference, the additional inquiry members and its final budget.
The Royal Commission will start considering evidence once the terms of reference are finalised and published.
Experience and Integrity
Ms Ardern said that Sir Anand has the “experience, mana and integrity.”
“The inquiry is expected to take three years and the hope is to have a report back by the end of this Parliamentary term. At any given time, there are 5000 children in state care and to all intents and purposes we are the parent. If there was abuse of those children the government had to take responsibility no matter where it happened,” she said.
Terms of Reference
Ms Martin said that the draft terms of reference approved by Cabinet task the Royal Commission with looking into what abuse happened in state care, why it happened and what the impacts were, particularly for Maori. They also ask the Commission to identify lessons that can be learned from this abuse today.
The Time Scale
“We have set a wide scope. The time period covered is the 50 years from 1950 to the end of 1999 and, unlike some similar overseas inquiries, the Royal Commission will take a broad view of abuse and consider physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect
A Royal Commission has the same legal powers as other public inquiries but is generally reserved for the most serious issues of public importance,” Ms Martin said.
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Editor’s Note: Indian Newslink conducts the ‘Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture’ every year in July/August. The annual Lecture series is a tribute to Sir Anand’s penchant for Good Governance based on Integrity, Honesty, Transparency and Accountability- qualities that have been the core principles throughout his life.
Sir Anand Satyanand
(Indian Newslink File Photo)