Hon Chris Hipkins Minister for the Public Service An interim report by the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, released today, is a deeply moving record of the State’s past failings in looking after citizens in its care, Minister for the Public Service Chris Hipkins says. “I welcome this interim report, and I acknowledge the courage and determination of survivors who relived their painful experiences with the Royal Commission,” Chris Hipkins said. To view or download the report, see this post.

“The report is a difficult read, and shows the enormity of abuse and trauma that has occurred. The hurt and anguish that has been caused in New Zealand’s history is inexcusable.”

This report is based on the accounts provided up to the conclusion of the State redress hearing on 3 November, of people abused in State care that were given at private and public hearings. It has no specific recommendations but what the Royal Commission has learned will ultimately inform its recommendations to Government in a final report.

“All children in the care of the state should be safe from harm, but as the testimony sets out all too often the opposite was true. We need to acknowledge these past wrongs and learn from them.”

Chris Hipkins said the Royal Commission’s work would inform further improvements to today’s care-and-redress systems.

“The Royal Commission’s focus is on people in State and faith-based care between 1950 and 1999. As the Commission moves into the next stage of its work, it’s important to recognise the many changes to State care since 2000 – including, for example, the much-improved vetting, training and oversight of staff and caregivers.

“The Government will also continue work already underway on other problem areas raised by survivors, such as possible options for a centralised claims process and considering reforms to how the Limitation Act is used.

“Survivors have told us they find it difficult to navigate the different redress processes operated by State agencies, and we are exploring whether a single entry-point is possible for historic claims.

“The Limitation Act, which sets time limits on recognising civil claims against the State, has been used to deny claims in Court, and we are already looking into how the Act might be applied in future for historic abuse claims.

“The redress principles outlined by the Royal Commission in this report will help us progress these actions and the Government will continue to listen and learn from the experience of survivors,” Chris Hipkins said.

The Royal Commission’s interim report is available here.

If you are needing support or someone to talk to you can contact the Royal Commission:

Call on 0800 222 727 between 8.30am and 6pm weekdays
Call from Australia on 1800 875 745
Email at contact@abuseincare.org.nz
Write to PO Box 10071, The Terrace, Wellington 6143
Visit www.abuseincare.org.nz

Contact: Richard Trow 021 278 7233

Improvements across the care system since 2000

The following table sets out examples of developments in the regulation and oversight of the care-related workforce and system over the last two decades.

Year Event Portfolio Description
2001 The Education Standards Act Education The Act regulated school boarding houses, introduced compulsory registration for kura kaupapa and early childhood teachers, and required complaints about teachers conduct, competence, or serious misconduct to be reported to the Teachers’ Council. It also amended the Education Act 1989 to require mandatory police vetting for all teachers, non-teaching staff, and contractors every three years.
2003 Children’s Commissioner Act Children Established the Office of the Children’s Commissioner as an independent Crown entity, following the establishment of the position of Children’s Commissioner under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 (now the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989).
2005 The Education (Hostels) Regulations Education Prescribed a hostel licensing system and checks on operators, with options for direct intervention if serious safety concerns were identified. (Hostels do not include private boarding arrangements, but include: residential special schools, health camps, state and state-integrated schools’ boarding hostels, and private hostels for international students attending registered schools)
2014-2015 The Vulnerable Children’s Act and the Vulnerable Children (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015 Children The Act introduced new requirements for children’s worker safety checking.  State services and organisations providing government-funded services to children and families were required to have a Child Protection Policy setting out their commitment to child protection and providing information on how staff should respond when they have concerns about the safety and wellbeing of children.

The regulations set out the details of the mandatory safety check.  Anyone convicted of a specified offence could not be employed as a core children’s worker unless they had an exemption.

2017 The Education (Update) Amendment Act Education Provided a legal framework for the appropriate use of physical restraint by teachers and authorised staff, allowing physical restraint only where there was a serious threat to safety. It also prohibited the use of seclusion in early childhood services, ngā kōhanga reo, schools and kura.
2018–2019 Oranga Tamariki (National Care Standards and Related Matters) Regulations 2018 Children The Regulations set out the actions or steps that must be taken to help ensure children and young people in care or custody receive an appropriate standard of care that is consistent with the principles in the Oranga Tamariki Act. They also set out the support that must be provided to caregivers when they have a child or young person in their care.

The National Care Standards Regulations came into force in 2019.

2019 Independent Children’s Monitor Children Establishment of independent monitoring of the Oranga Tamariki system and children’s issues.

Hon Chris Hipkins
Minister for the Public Service

17 Dec 2020