‘In­spir­ing’ battler for jus­tice on abuse dies

Ill-health was legacy of childhood in state care, says widow who vows cam­paign will con­tinue.

Sunday Star-Times - - FRONT PAGE - Re­nee Clay­ton re­ports.

The work of a man who helped launch a Crown in­quiry into state care abuse fol­low­ing his own ap­palling childhood won’t be in vain, his heart­bro­ken widow has pledged. Daryl Brougham, 38, died on Thurs­day af­ter a two-month bat­tle with pneu­mo­nia and an un­known virus that left him on life sup­port for four weeks. The Auck­lan­der leaves two daugh­ters aged four and two, and widow Emily Gao. ‘‘We need to carry on what he started,’’ Gao said last night. ‘‘We want ev­ery­one to cel­e­brate his life, re­mem­ber what he has done and to con­tinue his work so no child has to go through what he went through.’’ Brougham died be­fore hav­ing a chance to see out the Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into his­tor­i­cal state care abuse – an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary by Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern and Min­is­ter for Chil­dren Tracey Martin. At that time Brougham pub­licly called on the Gov­ern­ment to launch an in­quiry, hav­ing pre­vi­ously doc­u­mented his 18-year phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuse in a book, Through the Eyes of a Fos­ter Child. His story was fea­tured in the TVNZ doc­u­men­tary IAm just two weeks ago. Brougham re­ceived an of­fi­cial apol­ogy from the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and $70,000 in com­pen­sa­tion in 2015 af­ter it found 40 in­stances of se­ri­ous mis­con­duct by his so­cial work­ers and care­givers while he was moved be­tween more than 50 fos­ter homes. Martin last night told the Sun­day StarTimes Brougham was one of the ‘‘brave souls’’ whose pub­lic cam­paign­ing led to the in­quiry, and hopes to ful­fil his de­sire to do bet­ter by chil­dren in state care. She learned of his death from se­nior lead­er­ship teams in­volved in ad­vo­cacy work with Oranga Ta­mariki. ‘‘He was one of those ter­ri­bly let down by the state, how­ever Daryl made a brave de­ci­sion to tell his truth and focus his en­ergy on mak­ing sure that other chil­dren do not share his ex­pe­ri­ences,’’ she said. ‘‘I was, and am, im­mensely sad­dened to hear of Daryl’s death.’’ Gao be­lieves his ill-health was a side­ef­fect of his abuse, and has pledged to con­tinue his work. ‘‘We are heart-bro­ken,’’ she said. ‘‘He was an in­spi­ra­tional man and al­ways looked on the pos­i­tive side of life and put oth­ers first. We want ev­ery­one to cel­e­brate his life, re­mem­ber what he has done, and to con­tinue his work so no child has to go through what he went through. ‘‘Abuse is not okay. We know there are neg­a­tive emo­tional im­pacts but there is also phys­i­cal and long-term ef­fects. There is a part of me that be­lieves the long-term dam­age from all the star­va­tion and phys­i­cal abuse is a part of the rea­son his im­mune sys­tem couldn’t fight the pneu­mo­nia.’’ Brougham was in state care from the age of three months and was starved, beaten and sex­u­ally abused. It prompted his life’s mis­sion to en­act pos­i­tive change. ‘‘If I can change the lives of even 100 chil­dren out of the 3800 cur­rently in fos­ter care then I will have achieved some­thing,’’ he said in 2015. In Fe­bru­ary he told New­sHub that de­spite an apol­ogy to him his abusers were still walk­ing free, and he rec­om­mended a wide-rang­ing in­quiry. The terms of ref­er­ence for the Crown in­quiry are still be­ing drafted, but it will ex­am­ine cases from 1950 to the end of 1999 to cover state-run in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing child wel­fare in­sti­tu­tions, borstals or psy­chi­atric hospi­tals, and where the gov­ern­ment con­tracted ser­vices out to other in­sti­tu­tions.

Daryl Brougham, who was starved, beaten and sex­u­ally abused in fos­ter care, cam­paigned for a Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry but did not live to see it.

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