Inquiry into abuse in care: Chair resigns, concerns raised, first public hearing set

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The Royal Commission has announced Chair of the Abuse in Care Inquiry, Sir Anand Satyanand has resigned, effective in November 2019.

Sir Anand said:

"it has been a privilege to Chair the Abuse in Care Inquiry during its setup phase. When the Terms of Reference were announced by the Government in November 2018, the scope of the Inquiry was widened to include faith-based institutions and the scale of the work increased markedly. Because of that and the fact that the ‘set-up’ and development phase of the Inquiry is nearly complete, I have opted to step aside for a new Chair who can lead the Inquiry through to the completion of this important process."

Sir Anand has been appointed Chancellor of Waikato University, for a part-time governance and ceremonial role.

Other recent updates and announcements (made before Sir Anand's resignation) are summarised below.

First public hearings

The first public hearing has been scheduled for the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

The Commission has announced that the first public hearing will take place on 29 October 2019. It is expected to run until 8 November 2019. The venue has not been confirmed yet.

To prepare for the Public hearing, the Commission has scheduled one-day Procedural hearing on 19 August 2019 in Auckland. At the Procedural hearing, the Commission will provide information about the Public hearing. It will be possible to watch the Procedural Hearing live and after the event on the Commission website. 

The Commission has published a 2-page provisional scope document which sets out the focus for the Public hearing. The introduction to the scope states:

"The Inquiry will examine two important elements of the establishment of the Royal Commission and its operation:

1.1. The road to the Royal Commission, including the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service, the Confidential Forum for former In-Patients of Psychiatric Hospitals, as well as calls by survivors, human rights leaders and other bodies for a Commission of Inquiry to be established into state and faith-based institutions.

1.2. How Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its principles underpin the investigation as a whole and the issues that will be examined, including the disproportionate extent of abuse in care for whānau Māori."

For more information see What are Public Hearings? from the Inquiry's webpage on Frequently Asked Questions. Also see the Inquiry information for Survivors.

The Commission has also announced that they are accepting applications for individuals, groups, institutions or other organisations who wish to formally participate in the Inquiry, as a 'core participant'. The Commission states that:

A ‘core participant’ is someone who has played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in relation to abuse in care. They can also be someone who has a significant interest in abuse in care, or who may be subject to serious criticism during the Inquiry.

The deadline to apply to be a core participant in the first Public hearing is 26 July 2019.

More information about the hearings and applying to be a core participant see the Minutes from the July 2019 Procedural Hearing.

Survivors can also register to share their story in private sessions.

For questions, contact the Commission on 0800 222 727 or by email counselassist@abuseincare.org.nz

Concerns about the inquiry process

Media has reported a range of concerns by advocates.

Radio NZ reported that advocate Paora Moyle had raised concerns about how the Commission has handled Harry Tam's involvement with the Inquiry despite a history of domestic violence and ongoing safety concerns raised by women survivors. Mr Tam was the director of policy and research in the inquiry's secretariat team then the facilitator of the Survivor Advisory Group. Ms Moyle criticised the Commission's lack of action and lack of a complaints procedure to address concerns. The Commission issued a statement that the matter had been referred to the police and that an independent investigation into the allegations would be conducted by Maria Dew QC.  

Media also reported that concerns were raised by survivors and advocates about the process of early private hearings held by the Commission. A number of survivors said they had been treated poorly and that this reflected the commission's lack of care and experience. Executive Director Mervin Singham responded to these concerns in an interview with Newshub. The Commission also published conflict management plans. See further comments from survivors and advocates in the media below. 

Related news

In May the Government published information about how the government plans to respond to the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

In June the Ministry of Social Development announced that a Crown secretariat has been set up to coordinate and align the Crown’s engagement across and between agencies for the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

The Ministry of Social Development has been working on revising the process for responding to claims of historic abuse in state care.

Related media

State care abuse not just 'historical', inquiry told, Stuff, 19.08.2019

Royal Commission hearing: Churches consider dropping confidentiality agreements, RNZ, 19.08.2019

Survivor backs push to lift veil on church child abuse secret deals, Stuff, 15.08.2019

Confidentiality waiver means historic abuse survivors can speak freely, Beehive Press Release, 14.08.2019

Abuse inquiry on track despite losing head, Waatea News, 09.08.2019

Paora Crawford Moyle talks to Dale Husband, Waatea News, 08.08.2019

Māori partnership essential as abuse inquiry changes head, Waatea News, 07.08.2019

Survivors say they're losing faith after Sir Anand Satyanand resigns from abuse inquiry, RNZ, 07.08.2019

Sir Anand Satyanand on why he's leaving the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, NZ Herald, 06.08.2019

Resignation of Sir Anand Satyanand, Beehive Press Release, 06.08.2019

Sir Anand Satyanand steps down as head of inquiry into historical abuse, RNZ, 06.08.2019

Those investigating claims of children abused in state care have 'hundreds' of names of alleged perpetrators, NZ Herald, 01.08.2019

Archives info error: 'It's a breach of my basic human rights', RNZ, 24.07.2019

Alison Mau: State care abuse inquiry's gang connections the latest hurdle for vulnerable participants, Stuff, 14.07.2019

Inquiry into abuse in state care orders security checks for vulnerable women, Stuff, 14.07.2019

Abuse in state care royal commission begins public hearings, RNZ, 25.06.2019

Royal Commission into abuse to shine a light on NZ's 'dark' shared history, Satyanand promises, Stuff, 25.06.2019

Allegations of domestic abuse sees mongrel mobster removed as survivor advisor in inquiry into state abuse, Stuff, 21.06.2019

Royal Commission into state abuse: Scope of inquiry into gang member remains unclear, RNZ, 16.06.2019

'Alone in a room with no support': Abuse survivor slams Royal Commission, Newshub, 15.06.2019

Lawyer loses confidence in state care abuse inquiry, Radio NZ, 10.06.2019

Royal Commission’s ‘mock’ sessions with survivors, Newsroom, 10.06.2019

The Royal Commission into Abuse in State Care: Where is the Survivor Voice?, Re-Imagining Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand Blog, 04.05.2019

Ongoing issues with the inquiry into state care risk its very survival, Stuff, 11.04.2019

Questions on conflict of interest in abuse inquiry 'shut down', Radio NZ, 08.04.2019

Minister refuses state abuse inquiry chair's resignation amid conflict criticism, Stuff, 07.04.2019