Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Lake Alice unit abuse inquiry report presented to Parliament

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission’s case study Inquiry into the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit has been presented to Parliament today.

Minister of Internal Affairs, Jan Tinetti said the report catalogues the horrific experiences of children and young people who were patients at the unit during its short existence in the 1970s.

“They were subject to terrible abuse and neglect,” said Minister Tinetti.

“The report describes a litany of failings by State agencies. The patients suffered mistreatment by staff, and there were poor oversight and referral procedures. Further, a series of investigations into abuse at the unit have delivered unsatisfactory results for Lake Alice survivors.”

The report states that children who spent time at the unit experienced abuse, sexual abuse, harm and trauma including electric shock punishment that was administered to various parts of the body including the head, torso, legs and genitals.

Paraldehyde was also injected as a form of punishment, along with solitary confinement.

Following the most recent Police investigation into Lake Alice – the fourth such investigation since 1977 – charges have been laid against a former staff member. His trial is expected to take place in 2023.

“To avoid prejudicing the right to a fair trial, a small amount of information has been withheld from the report, in line with legal advice received by Ministers. Following the trial, the report will be released in full,” Ms Tinetti said.

“During the Royal Commission hearings, the Ministry of Health acknowledged there was systemic failure in the care of patients at the unit. The abuse was completely unjustified, both by today’s standards and the standards of the time. It is a shameful episode in the history of care in New Zealand.”

The report contains no recommendations, as the Royal Commission’s recommendations will now be included in its final report, due in June 2023.

“The Government will ensure that all the final report recommendations, including those stemming from the Lake Alice report, are thoroughly and promptly considered,” said Minister for the Public Service, Chris Hipkins.

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