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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