IHC gives evidence of abuse and neglect
A six-year-old boy who couldn’t spell cat and didn’t know his last name was sent to an institution where for 13 years he was put to work and physically and sexually abused.
IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care that a man, referred to as M, received no schooling, no pay for the work he did, and State authorities frustrated his attempts to have his abuse investigated.
“Before IHC became involved in the development of the civil claim, M had tried unsuccessfully for years to have the Government investigate the abuse and neglect he had experienced in an institution and the life opportunities he had missed, and provide him compensation,” she said.
“M started his formal claim against the state in 1997 and it was finally settled in 2003.”
Trish Grant gave evidence about IHC’s experience of taking civil action against the Crown for abuse and neglect experienced by people in institutions and in schools.
She focused on two cases. The first case concerned IHC’s legal action against the Ministry of Education over ongoing discrimination that disabled children face at school.
The case alleges unlawful discrimination against 84,000–106,000 children in State schools who have disabilities and need additional support to learn. IHC lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission in 2008. It was finally given a preliminary hearing by the Human Rights Review Tribunal in 2015. We are still waiting to hear the outcome.
The second case concerned M, who died in 2006. M was diagnosed as intellectually disabled and sent to the Templeton Centre near Christchurch. He was promised an education, but he was put to work there and not given any education. He finally left there at the age of 19.
“The recorded evidence for the diagnosis of low intelligence was that at six years old he did not know his surname, could not add two plus two and could not spell the word cat.”
Eventually staff at Seaview Hospital assessed him as not having an intellectually disability, and he was sent to work as a porter and orderly in a hospital. He spent the next 40 years working in hospitals.
In the 1990s M sought an apology from the Crown for the abuse and neglect he experienced in institutions. Above all, he wanted an apology for the neglect to provide him with an education.
The inquiry is examining the historical abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults in State care and in the care of faith-based institutions. Private sessions began in May 2019, and in two hearings in October and November survivors gave evidence of their experiences in seeking redress, followed by Crown witnesses on their processes for resolving claims.
Above: Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash.
This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.
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