• Major inquiry into child abuse at Scottish institutions spanning decades
• Victims now thought to be living in New Zealand, Australia and Canada
• First evidence to be heard this month
• Public hearings to take place in November
• Victims should email information@childabuseinquiry.scot or phone Scotland 0800 0929300

A major Scottish child abuse inquiry is calling for victims now living in New Zealand to come forward and give evidence.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has announced its first formal Call for Evidence inviting those who grew up in Scottish residential and foster care and suffered abuse as children to share their experiences.

An appeal has gone out to the other side of the world after those heading the inquiry discovered it could include people who had since emigrated to Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

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The inquiry will investigate the nature and extent of abuse of children in care in Scotland, and consider the extent to which institutions and bodies with legal responsibility for looking after children failed.

It will investigate cases of abuse within living memory up to 2014.

Inquiry chair Susan O'Brien said a key aspect would be looking at recommendations for the future as well as learning lessons from the past.

"The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry is calling on survivors of abuse to step forward and be heard.

"I am asking survivors to help us, by telling us what happened to them. We will always respect your dignity," she said.

"The people who were abused are entitled to answers. Where lessons can be learned, we will make recommendations for the future. This inquiry is not just for survivors of abuse in the past: it is also for Scottish children yet to be born."

A number of children were sent from Scottish institutions to Australia, Canada and New Zealand last century.

It was believed some might still be alive and recall what happened to them in Scotland.

Those abused in the care of Scottish authorities would initially have their evidence heard in private and recorded anonymously.

The first private evidence gathering meetings would take place from late this month.

Ms O'Brien said survivors did not have to live in Scotland to be part of the inquiry, but the institution where the experiences took place must have been in Scotland or their care was arranged by a government authority.

Public hearings would take place in November. The first will look at what psychological help was available for abuse survivors in Scotland.

An interim report next year would help shape recommendations to help survivors before the inquiry's final report was published.

Contact the team by email on information@childabuseinquiry.scot, telephone on 0800 0929300 or by post, Scottish Child Abuse inquiry, PO Box 24085, Edinburgh EH7 9EA.