Monday, July 15, 2024

First steps taken to improve support for abuse survivors

Work to improve Government support for survivors of abuse in care has begun, while a new, independent redress system is designed, Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

The preliminary steps – recommended by the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry – include rapid payments for claimants, a new listening service, and easier provision of survivor records of their time in care, the Minister said.

“Designing the new system will take time – it is a complex task, requiring input from many different survivor groups to get it right,” Mr Hipkins said.

“While that work happens, the Royal Commission recommended some interim steps, including rapid payments to elderly or terminally ill abuse survivors who are waiting for their claims to be processed.

“I’ve asked for options on faster payments and for options for establishing a listening service, to give survivors a safe place to tell their stories after the Inquiry finishes in June 2023. I expect to see faster payment options within the next two months.

“In addition, I’ve asked for work on how we can improve survivors’ access to their own records, following concerns raised with the Inquiry about the timeliness and quality of records provision,” he said.

The Government has also instructed officials to begin work, later this year, on a national apology to abuse in care survivors, as was also recommended by the Royal Commission.

“The Government agrees we shouldn’t wait for the new system to improve the way we help survivors. At the same time, we have committed to meaningful change, and I want to ensure that any interim steps are done right,” said Mr Hipkins.

“I expect to get detailed advice and options across the three areas – payments, the listening service, and records – later this year, when I will also consider options for the collaborative design of the new system.

“Once design proposals for the new system are developed, there will be significant engagement before any final decisions are made. This will allow all survivors to have their say on this important work.” 

He said the Government will work with survivor groups, tikanga experts and representatives from other communities affected by abuse in care on what a national apology might look like and how it might be delivered.  

The proactively released Cabinet paper is here.

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