New Zealand Law Society - Government outlines state care abuse inquiry response

Government outlines state care abuse inquiry response

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The Government says it has agreed on a set of principles to guide how government agencies and the Crown responds to the Royal Commission into historical abuse in state care and in the care of faith-based institutions.

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins will lead the Crown's response to the Royal Commission's inquiry. The Cabinet Paper on the strategic approach has been publicly released.

“Eleven government agencies are involved in responding to the inquiry. Given the scale and the significance, Cabinet has set out how Government agencies will engage with the Royal Commission and survivors,” Mr Hipkins says.

The six principles are:

Manaakitanga: Treating people with humanity, compassion, fairness, respect and responsible caring that upholds the mana of those involved;

Openness: Being honest and sincere, being open to receiving new ideas and willing to consider how we do things currently, and how we have done things in the past;

Transparency: Sharing information, including the reasons behind all actions;

Learning: Active listening and learning from the Royal Commission and survivors, and using that information to change and improve systems;

Being joined up: Agencies work together closely to make sure activities are aligned, engagement with the Royal Commission is coordinated and the resulting actions are collectively owned; and

Meeting our obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Honouring the Treaty, its principles, meeting our obligations and building a stronger Māori-Crown relationship through the way we operate and behave.

“In setting out the principles, we have taken an important step in the vital task of rebuilding trust between Government and children who were abused while they were in state care," Mr Hipkins says.

The Royal Commission will present an interim report in December 2020 and its final report by January 2023.

“It has been indicated to me that the Royal Commission may make recommendations as it identifies trends and issues over the next four years," Mr Hipkins says. "If they do, I expect Government agencies to start working on those recommendations as they are made.

“It is thought that at least half of children in state care were Māori. It is vital that their experiences are recognised and respected by Crown agencies. My expectation is that our principles-based cross-agency approach will help enable this.

“The concerns of Pacific people and people with disabilities also needed to be addressed."