Ministry of Social Development Contemporary Claims Process
Article and screenshot below first placed online 10/9/2015
The Ministry of Social Development and Government has kept it very quiet (totally off the radar), but historic claims can now be lodged for abuse that occurred in State run institutions (foster care, State run camps, boys homes, girls homes etc) after 1993. These claims run parallel to the historic claims process and are named the MSD Contemporary Claims.
If you were abused while in State care between 1993-2007 you are eligible to file a complaint and lodge a claim with the Ministry of Social Development or another Department relevant to your complaint (e.g. Ministry of Education pertaining to abuse at Waimokoia Residential School).
For those of you who might wish to lodge a claim/complaint, I’d strongly recommend contacting Cooper Legal in Wellington. Legal aid is available to people who earn under $23,000 a year and Cooper Legal do not charge upfront fees for legal aid applications.
Contact Sonja Cooper at Cooper Legal, 63-73 The Terrace, Wellington, 6011, New Zealand +64 4-499 9025. Their website, explaining the work they have done in the historic abuse claims here….
Note: It is the State’s obligation to pay your legal costs when your claim is settled (legal aid or private). This sum is not deducted from your settlement but becomes an additional cost for the State to cover.Statistically speaking, those who do have legal representation have a better outcome in the claims when compared to those who represent themselves. Thus, you have everything to gain from legal representation and nothing to lose. On the other hand, the State bares a heavier financial burden – both through the sum value of compensation/settlement payments being typically higher to those with legal representation, and having to cover legal costs – and presumably this is why they are repeatedly advising claimants that legal representation is unnecessary (go figure!).
Know/understand also that those handling/investigating your claim (representatives of the MSD, MOE etc) are not your friend/s nor allies. They are paid representatives of a State charged with looking after the interests of that State – a State that has consistently demonstrated a cynical, callous contempt for human rights (your rights) where resolving historical abuse claims against that same State is concerned. Recently, the United Nations Committee Against Torture called New Zealand to task over their handling of the historic claims re redress (failing to provide adequate compensation and the means for as full a rehabilitation as possible). Therefore, understand that no matter how nice the State representative seems when he/she says there is no need for legal representation and the process is not a legal process this is highly misleading information – a scripted dialogue that serves to disempower the victim (you) while empowering the State (the defendant/perpetrator). Think of any NZ government representatives as being like the Dickens character, the Artful Dodger – who was skillful at distracting the attention of his victims with friendly conversation as he picked their pockets – and you’ll be in good stead.
If you are currently involved in, or are intending to lodge, a claim I’d like to hear from you (all part of joining the dots for future lobby work – knowledge is power!). Contact me at my email of nzchildabuse [at] gmail [dot] com, or use the site email form.
Footnote: Months after writing to the MSD for confirmation about the contemporary claims process, an official from the MSD finally responded with confirmation that yes there is a contemporary claims process which has been in action for some time (since 2013). Additionally, they noted that they would add information about the contemporary claims on the MSD website. Seemingly they have had an avenue for redress for abuse that occurred in State care post 1993 for some time (since 2013!!) – it’s just that they didn’t bother informing victims of this (their rights). Download MSD response here…..
Footnote 2, over 6 months on from the above footnote:
Having contacted the MSD in late June 2016 on two occasions and requested a link to any material on their site surrounding information about the ‘Contemporary Claims’ based on their statement in November 2015 of “you might be interested to know that the Ministry is currently working on updating the information on its website www.msd.govt.nz” , I received correspondence on the 20 July 2016 stating that no material had been added to the MSD site surrounding the MSD Contemporary Claims. Download MSD correspondence here (PDF)