Inquiry on state care abuse?

There has been a lot said recently about Anne Tolley’s refusal to consider an inquiry into state care abuse, despite one being recommended by  Judge Carolyn Henwood  after chairing a Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) panel on the historic abuses.

Like many others I’m puzzled why Tolley won’t address this via an inquiry.

Deborah Hill-Come writes Memo to Anne Tolley – it’s time to stop talking and start listening

Note to Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley: Try stopping being a politician for a minute, and just listen.

. “If you listen to me …” Tolley kept saying to Kim Hill on Morning Report, but actually Minister sometimes it’s not your place to talk, it’s your place to shut up. You attest the victims don’t want an independent inquiry. However Judge Henwood, who chaired the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) panel that heard from more than 1100 people who were abused in state care, came to a different conclusion.

She recommended an independent inquiry. The government ignored this recommendation, seemingly for reasons to do with fiscal and legal risk. “It’s very disappointing for our participants. I feel offended on their behalf,” Judge Henwood said, bravely. Survivors had nowhere to go and no further support.

One of the most pertinent points:

It is insulting for someone who suffered at the hands of the state to be expected to go to the very same agency which allegedly traumatised them to lay a complaint.

Tolley says the historic claims unit is a separate part of MSD, but it is still an agency within ministry. This is hardly independent.

Child victims of abuse and inadequate state care often grow up unwilling to trust state agencies. Understandably.

Kim Hill: “You are not setting up an independent body and I’m interested to know why not?” Anne Tolley: “Because we are three-quarters of the way through settling those claims. Why would we stop that process?” Answer: Because the 1100 victims who spoke to the CLAS said that is what they want.

If the current process is fundamentally flawed due to not being done through an independent agency then rearranging the current process may be essential if it is serious about repairing as much damage as possible.

Tolley said “Some of the claimants have different sorts of care. In some cases they have received very good care.”

Kim Hill: “You mean when they weren’t being raped or abused, Ms Tolley?”

Tolley: “Part of their care was extremely good.”

Kim Hill: “You want them to focus on the good times?”

That exchange is troubling. If Tolley tries to downplay abuse because  some care of some of the victims was ok then I really wonder whether she is the right person to be in charge of this Ministry and this issue.

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2 Comments

  1. @NZMorningReport
    “I don’t think it would achieve a lot” – @johnkeypm, as calls grow for an independent inquiry into the abuse of children in state care.

    Reply
  2. The eternal pessimist in me thinks: As in England with the inquiries into paedophilia and our own Judge Lowell Goddard’s resignation, when it comes to child sexual abuse in ‘State Care’ we’re getting closer and closer to the very rawest nerve-endings, and the thinnest scab membranes of the Western [Wetiko] disease …

    What are they afraid of?

    I suspect ultimately ‘they’ (we) are afraid of the true extent of this activity, its sheer vastness and ‘reach’, against which the agencies (and theoretically individuals) involved might look like child flesh-peddlers, whoremongers of ‘native’ and working-class offspring, paedophile enablers and child sex-abusers more than operatives in a ‘caring’ bureaucracy …

    Closed wounds to our mass psyche like this only fester and become septic if they’re not addressed though …

    Like plumbing the true depths of colonial malevolence, this in another call for ‘truth & reconciliation’ IMHO …

    Reply

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