War of words over minister's comments about child abuse in state care

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley will make no apology for children abused while in state care. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley will make no apology for children abused while in state care. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

A prominent judge has come out swinging after Social Development Minister Anne Tolley ruled out apologising for the abuse of children in state care.

Judge Carolyn Henwood chaired the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service panel that heard more than 1100 cases of people abused in state care between the 1950s and 1980s.

The panel wrapped up in June 2015. Judge Henwood told Radio New Zealand today that survivors had nowhere to go and no extra support.

Judge Henwood said the government ignored a number of recommendations made by herself and others.

These included that an independent inquiry be established to ascertain the extent of the abuse, investigate complaints and monitor the Ministry's care of children.

"It's very disappointing for our participants. I feel offended on their behalf," Judge Henwood told Radio New Zealand.

The Ministry has been handling the complaints.

Tolley told Morning Report today, the Ministry was designing a care and protection service and had settled more than 700 of the 1100 claims.

She said about 3.5 per cent of children in state care had made claims, most of which required an apology and compensation, not an inquiry.

"If we start now for a major inquiry, then they have to relive that all again. Why would we put them through that?

"There's no evidence that it was a systemic problem," Ms Tolley said on Morning Report.

Judge Henwood, however, disagreed asking how Tolley determined this number if there had been no inquiry.

"They can't see it. They don't want to see it and they always want to be in the right. With that kind of attitude at the top of the government department it doesn't bode well for the future," Judge Henwood said.

Tolley said some of the claimants had "good experiences" in state care.

- NZ Herald

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