Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has been joined by a host of other prominent New Zealanders in calling for an independent inquiry into the abuse of people in state care. The Never Again open letter calls for an inquiry to ensure that the voices of those affected by abuse are heard, the lasting and profound impact of the abuse recognised and, most importantly, lessons learned from past mistakes inform the future of children in state care.
Aotearoa’s Lost Generation
Dame Susan talks about Aotearoa’s Lost Generation in relating the story of one 10 year old boy caught stealing lollies, taken away from whānau and place in a boy’s home where he endured long stretches in isolation. His parents died while he was in the home and after his release he was housed with a series of strangers who physically and sexually abused him. He ended up being in and out of prison and did not make meaningful contact with his whānau again until his old age.
This is just one story, yet over a 40 year period some 100,000 children and vulnerable adults were put into state care and the majority of them were Māori. Many of those people have never had their stories told, but many stories of abuse have emerged in recent years and the Ministry of Social Development’s response is not sufficient and more must be done.