Cabinet narrows scope of Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care

Tue 27 Apr 2021

The government has announced changes to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti announced changes to the terms of reference for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care. The changes include narrowing the scope of the Royal Commission and changing some of the reporting timelines.

The Beehive media release states that "Cabinet has adjusted the Royal Commission’s terms of reference by:

  • Allowing the Royal Commission a small extension of up to five months to give it time to complete its final report back by June 2023,
  • Moving the due date forward to October 2021 for its report on redress for survivors of historical abuse and how the redress process can be improved, so Government can move more quickly to make improvements, and
  • Narrowing the Royal Commission’s scope by removing the requirement for it to look at modern-day care policy settings to avoid duplication with other reviews already underway, and so it can focus on the causes, extent and nature of historical abuse in care."

Minister Tinetti said the changes would ensure the Commission could deliver the final report in 2023. She said:

“I reflected on what the Royal Commission was originally tasked with and whether that scope remains appropriate. And in doing so, it became clear that some adjustments are necessary, so the Royal Commission can complete its job by 2023.

“Since the Royal Commission was established, there have been a number of reviews and investigations into contemporary State care issues, which have significant overlaps and risk duplication with the Royal Commission’s work.”

The Royal Commission issued a statement in response to the announcement. The Royal Commission said they would speak to Minister Tinetti " clarify the nature and extent of this change and the implications for survivors and those currently in care." The Commission also said "It is imperative that any changes to current care systems and practices be informed by past learnings. Our recommendations about these will be outlined in our reports, including the final report."

RNZ has reported that advocates and survivors have criticised the decision.

The original terms of reference were confirmed in 2018. These confirmed the inquiry would focus on people who were in care between 1950 and 1999, but also allowed the Commission to hear from people who were in care at any point after 1999 or currently in care.

Update: The Abuse in Care Royal Commission Inquiry published a media release in July 2021 about the changes to the Terms of Reference being finalised. It states:

"Changes to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference confirm the Inquiry can make recommendations to help avoid future abuse based on the lessons of the past, and to improve redress systems. To inform those recommendations, the Inquiry can continue to hear from survivors about issues and experiences up to the present day."

It also states:

"The Government has now finalised further changes, which:

-continue the discretion to allow the Royal Commission to consider issues prior to 1950 and after 1999 for the purposes of making recommendations on redress, or to ensure that factors that allowed abuse to occur in care do not persist.

-remove the Royal Commission’s mandate to examine current frameworks to prevent and respond to abuse in care, including current legislation, policy, rules, standards and practices."

Related news

In January 2021 Minister for Children Kelvin Davis established a new Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board to provide independent advice "...across three key areas of Oranga Tamariki: relationships with families, whānau, and Māori; professional social work practices; and organisational culture." The Board members are Sir Mark Solomon, Dame Naida Glavish, Shannon Pakura and Matthew Tukaki. An initial report is expected from the Board by 30 June 2021. Also in January 2021, Grainne Moss resigned as Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki. Sir Wira Gardiner has been appointed as acting Chief Executive for a six month contract. For more information on the changes, see Moana Maniapoto's interview with Sir Wira Gardiner in Series 3 Episode 6 of Te Ao with Moana. Also see the media below for more information.

Closing submissions were provided to the Waitangi Tribunal urgent inquiry Oranga Tamariki claim (Wai 2891) in February 2021.

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