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Ed Sheeran

Maori input vital for abuse inquiry

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A group of leading experts says factors that led to the targeting of Maori families by child-welfare agencies need to be a major part of any inquiry into abuse of children and vulnerable adults in state and out of home care.

The Government has made setting up such an inquiry one of the commitments for its first 100 days.

The experts - Victoria University associate professor in criminology Elizabeth Stanley, University of Auckland senior law lecturer Anaru Erueti, lawyer Sonja Cooper and NZ Centre for Human Rights director Rosslyn Noonan - say to be credible the inquiry needs to be a royal commission.

It should hear evidence on different forms of abuse and care to uncover the full range of physical, sexual, psychological abuse and neglect;

It should investigate and report on significant issues, including:

- how and why the abuse was perpetuated through structural and systemic processes

- identifying the agencies that were responsible and should be held accountable

- factors that led to the targeting of Maori families by child-welfare agencies and the over-representation of Maori in state care

The experts say the commission must engage in processes that are survivor-focused.

They recommend the royal commission covers historic and contemporary abuse in care, hears evidence from a wide range of people, has powers to compel witnesses and the production of documents and has a significant research capacity.

It should also have responsibility for setting compensation and other redress.

The proposed framework was based on a survey completed by 340 survivors of abuse in state care as at 1 December 2017, and reflects their wishes. Advocates and survivors who have worked on these issues for many years were also consulted.

The group along with the Human Rights Commission has organised a gathering of survivors, activists, academics, professionals working in the area, and community-leaders at Victoria University of Wellington on February 14 and 15 to evaluate the government’s draft terms of reference.

 

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