Otago Daily Times

Ex­tended abuse in­quiry ques­tioned by sur­vivor

- DAISY HUD­SON daisy.hud­son@odt.co.nz

A PO­TEN­TIAL ex­ten­sion of the Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into Abuse in Care could draw out an al­ready painful process for vic­tims, a Dunedin sur­vivor says.

The com­mis­sion has been look­ing into claims of abuse in state care and faith­based in­sti­tu­tions such as churches.

Af­ter Covid­19 caused de­lays to the process, a com­mis­sion spokes­woman con­firmed to the Otago Daily Times that it was dis­cussing op­tions, in­clud­ing ex­ten­sions, with the Govern­ment.

The com­mis­sion was orig­i­nally ex­pected to pro­duce a fi­nal re­port by 2023.

A de­ci­sion to ex­tend would be made ‘‘in due course’’.

The pos­si­bil­ity of draw­ing out the process fur­ther has an­gered Male Sur­vivors Otago spokesman Michael Cham­ber­lain.

He was con­cerned that the process could in­crease the trauma for those shar­ing their stories of abuse and the longer it took, the more likely it was that some sur­vivors and al­leged abusers would die be­fore it fin­ished.

One hun­dred and twenty­seven sur­vivors from Otago and South­land have reg­is­tered with the com­mis­sion.

He was also crit­i­cal of what he con­sid­ered to be a lack of pub­lic en­gage­ment and out­reach.

He had tried to or­gan­ise a pub­lic launch event in Dunedin, but af­ter be­ing told the pro­posal was with senior man­age­ment at the com­mis­sion, heard noth­ing for more than two months.

The spokes­woman said the com­mis­sion ac­knowl­edged sur­vivors had waited a long time for this in­quiry and ex­pec­ta­tions were high. It ex­pected the in­quiry to take some years to com­plete.

‘‘We also ac­knowl­edge the courage it takes to share your ex­pe­ri­ence of abuse and/or ne­glect with us, and are grate­ful and hon­oured to hear from the many sur­vivors who have cho­sen to do so.’’

When schedul­ing pri­vate ses­sions, they pri­ori­tised those who were older or un­well.

‘‘Each of our in­ves­ti­ga­tions are com­plex and must be dealt with sen­si­tively and rig­or­ously.

‘‘We must com­mit the max­i­mum re­sourc­ing and ap­pro­pri­ate amount of time to do jus­tice to each in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and to the thou­sands of sur­vivors who are an in­te­gral part of these.’’

Pub­lic en­gage­ment had been put on hold due to Covid as well, she said.

But events across the coun­try, in­clud­ing in Dunedin, were about to recom­mence and more in­for­ma­tion would be avail­able soon.

Asked if she was aware of a pos­si­ble ex­ten­sion re­quest, a spokes­woman for Min­is­ter of In­ter­nal Af­fairs Jan Tinetti said it would be pre­ma­ture for the Govern­ment to spec­u­late on the de­tails of an in­ter­nal re­port from the com­mis­sion, which was due by the end of the year.

The com­mis­sion’s next pub­lic hear­ing on re­dress for abuse in faith­based in­sti­tu­tions, namely the Catholic Church, Angli­can Church and the Sal­va­tion Army, be­gins on Novem­ber 30 in Auck­land.

❛ We must com­mit the max­i­mum re­sourc­ing and

ap­pro­pri­ate amount of time to do jus­tice to each

in­ves­ti­ga­tion . . . com­mis­sion of in­quiry


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