Panui – March 2024

Update on Royal Commission’s extension and the Crown Response Work Programme

24 March 2024

This pānui/newsletter is from the Crown Response Unit – the team that responds to recommendations from the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry. We will issue pānui when we can update you on progress with our work programme.

Please feel free to share this pānui to other survivors of abuse in care. They can sign up to receive the pānui at: contact@abuseinquiryresponse.govt.nz with ‘pānui’ in the email subject line.

Kia ora koutou,

The Government has today announced a short extension to the final reporting timeline for the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry from 28 March 2024 to 26 June 2024. To find out more, go here: Government approves extension to Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care | Beehive.govt.nz (external link) or here tinyurl.com/5n6hu9j7

In her announcement, the Internal Affairs Minister Brooke van Velden says the Royal Commission wrote to her on 16 February 2024, requesting that she consider an extension for its final report.

She said the Royal Commission advised it needed additional time to complete natural justice processes related to its findings and recommendations, a requirement under the Inquiries Act 2013.

However, Minister van Velden says she made clear to the Royal Commission this is the final extension request she will consider. She said it is not tenable to prolong the delivery of the findings and recommendations any further.

The Minister has also requested the Royal Commission deliver the Inquiry’s recommendations to her by 30 May 2024. This will enable the Crown to begin work on its response, and the recommended public apology.

The Royal Commission’s extension has not delayed the work of the Crown response on records improvement, the Survivor Experiences Service and Rapid payments. Please read an update below.

Update on the Crown response work programme

Records improvements

The Crown Response Unit and Archives New Zealand are working together to make it easier for survivors of abuse to access their personal records about their time in care. Following a recent consultation Archives NZ has published the scope and definition of care records to help the government and other organisations know which records are valuable for those in care and should be protected until a wider decision is made about how long to keep these records and what to do with them long term. You can find the scope and definition on Archives New Zealand website:

Read the care records definition (archives.govt.nz) or here tinyurl.com/28zpdykx

Survivor Experiences Service

The Crown Response Unit and the Survivor Experiences Service are working with some people who have barriers to communication, a learning disability, cognitive impairment, and people who are neurodiverse. We are gathering the views of the Deaf and disabled community to understand how the Service can meet their needs.

This work will be completed by the end of April 2024 and the Crown Response Unit will provide a report to the Survivor Experiences Service.

Rapid payments

MSD is continuing to offer rapid payments as an option for claimants. All survivors have the choice of having their claim assessed through the rapid payment process, or an individualised assessment.

In line with the Royal Commission’s recommendations and ministerial decisions, MSD is prioritising claims from people who are ill or elderly (70 years or older) and those who have been waiting the longest to have their claim resolved.

MSD has published more information about its claims process and rapid payments, including statistics, online at:

https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/historic-claims/whats-currently-happening-at-historic-claims.html (external link) or here tinyurl.com/4dzabn3t

Apologies and Redress

The Crown Response Unit is preparing briefings on the apology and redress system that require Ministerial approval.

Briefing to Incoming Minister

Incoming Ministers receive briefings following the formation of a new Government or changes to Cabinet. These documents have been proactively released. Redactions made to the documents have been made consistent with provisions of the Official Information Act 1982.

We have published our: Briefing to Incoming Minister on our website. (external link)

www.abuseinquiryresponse.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Briefings-to-Ministers/Briefing-for-Incoming-Minister-for-the-Public-Service_Redacted.pdf or here tinyurl.com/yszepmde

Support

Government acknowledges that news of another delay to the Royal Commission’s final report may be upsetting and frustrating for some survivors. The Government is aware of the importance to the survivor community of delivering the final report and recommendations, so that the healing process can truly begin.

The Royal Commission has encouraged survivors to get in touch with its Contact and Support Centre on
0800 222 727 or email contact@abuseincare.org.nz if you would like to discuss any questions or wellbeing support options.

Note from editor – this was relevant at the time of the pānui, March 2024. The work of the Royal Commission ends on 26 June 2024 when it submits its final report. For support after that please contact:

The Survivor Experiences Service is now available for people who were abused in State, faith-based, or other forms of care, as well as for a survivor’s whānau.

Survivors and whānau can contact the Survivor Experiences Service to organise a time and place to share their experiences.:

If you are Deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, speech impaired or find it hard to talk, you can use the
New Zealand Relay Service. https://www.nzrelay.co.nz

Ngā mihi,

Crown Response Unit

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