The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care is looking into what happened to children, young people and vulnerable adults in State and faith-based care between 1950 and 1999.
- It is a response to the many people and organisations who have called for such an inquiry over many years.
- It is guided by Terms of Reference that were finalised after engagement with more than 400 groups/individuals concerned with what the Commission should focus on.
- The inquiry will concentrate its investigation on:
- Why people were taken into care;
- What abuse happened and why;
- The effects of the abuse.
- Māori, Pasefika and disabled people will receive particular attention because of their disproportionate representation in State and faith-based care.
- Commissioners are responsible for: Listening to survivors share their experience in private sessions;
- Holding public hearings;
- Conducting research and engaging with communities;
- Making recommendations to the Government in 2023 on how New Zealand can better care for children, young people, and vulnerable adults.
The Anglican Church is not only supporting this Commission but, along with survivor groups and others, it successfully advocated for an extension of the Terms of Reference to include faith-based care. In 2018 our Primates wrote directly to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arguing for the extension so that “victims, survivors and the public at large would have greater confidence in the processes and outcomes of the Royal Commission’s Inquiry”.
The Anglican Church is working directly with the Royal Commission and actively encouraging all its partners to fully cooperate with the designated process. Late last year Archbishop Philip was interviewed by Newshub (from 5 minutes in) where he reflected on a “dark chapter in New Zealand’s history” and confirmed the churches would welcome the scrutiny and independence the Commissioners would bring. He added that it was “inconceivable” to think that there has not been some abuse in faith-based institutions and reiterated that the stories of the survivors were absolutely critical. Ultimately, we hope to contribute to a process of accountability, closure, and healing that embraces the core Gospel message that “the truth shall set you free.”
If you are a survivor of abuse in State or faith-based care we urge you to share your story. The Royal Commission of Inquiry is available on 0800 222 727 weekdays 10am to 4pm. For more information about the Royal Commission see the national website Abuse in Care.
STATEMENT FROM ANGLICAN CHURCH
A statement from the two Aotearoa/New Zealand-based Archbishops prior to the Faith-based Redress Hearing of The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.
Abuse in any form is incompatible with the love of God. It is completely unacceptable within the Church.
It violates our sacred belief that all people are made in the image of God, are loved by God, and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
All people, and especially our children and the most vulnerable among us, must be assured that they are safe when they are in our churches, our schools, our agencies and organisations.
There must also be confidence that when a complaint is made it will be treated seriously and with a process that everyone can have confidence in. That is why, when the original terms of reference for the Royal Commission were released, we knew that we had to approach the Government and ask that they be extended to include faith-based organisations such as ourselves.
We made this request because we believe that there can be confidence in the independence, transparency and rigour of a Royal Commission. We're grateful that the Government listened to the same request from survivor groups and extended the terms of reference.
As we approach the Redress hearings there can be no doubt that the evidence will show that people have been abused within the Anglican Church, our schools, our agencies and organisations. Abuse has happened throughout our wider communities and in State care in the past. It will have happened within the wider Church as well.
The evidence shows that there are clear examples of the Church failing to handle complaints of abuse appropriately, further victimising survivors. Any good person would be horrified by this, and rightly so. It is completely unacceptable and that is why we are cooperating fully with the Royal Commission.
It will be right and appropriate that the Church apologises for these failures and for the impact of these failures, and that apology will be unequivocal.
It will also be important for the Church to offer appropriate support and to approach redress in real and tangible ways.
We are utterly committed to ensuring that abuse in all its forms is eradicated from our communities.
What is most important now is that the survivors of abuse be heard, and that they be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Archbishop Donald Tamihere
Te Pihopa o Aotearoa
Archbishop Philip Richardson
Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses