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Access: The stories the Royal Commission needs to hear about state care abuse and disability

22 Responses

  • Sacha,

    the profession of specialist psychopaedic nurse (nurses for children with intellectual or learning disability or other impairments in the institutions) was a New Zealand invention in the 1960s.

    Crikey. Not heard of that before but it really does show the scale of residential services.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Sacha,

    There was a major push for increasing the size and scope of the psychopaedic institutions following the Government's 1953 Aitken report, even though that was already against international WHO best practice. The stroppy parents who founded the IHC in 1949 lobbied hard for this committee which they hoped would instead recommend more community support and services. Instead they grew over the following two decades and places like Kimberley (just one of several institutions) had almost a thousand residents at times.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Huge. Which part/s of the govt's Budgets did their funding come from in those days?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sacha,

    Crikey. Not heard of that before...

    Hilary Stace posted that info here over four years ago.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Sacha,

    Good question. Social Welfare and Health I suspect. Some via Education. Government Departments weren't so silo'd in those days so I suspect there were many ways of uplifting children and making them the property of the State. I hope the Royal Commission investigates such questions and sorts out the tangled responsibilities of the State.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Hilary Stace posted that info here over four years ago.

    Though I did not understood it was an NZ invention rather than something we copied:

    The profession of psychopaedic nurse (specialists in nursing intellectually disabled children) was developed in 1960s New Zealand.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sacha,

    Though I did not understood it was an NZ invention rather than something we copied:

    The profession of psychopaedic nurse (specialists in nursing intellectually disabled children) was developed in 1960s New Zealand

    Are you quoting Hilary Stace's latest article, or the earlier one from 2014? She uses precisely the same sentence in both. I wasn't aware that "psychopaedic nurse" was an endemic NZ thing until she pointed it out. It was significant to me because, growing up in one of the handful of staff houses at Kimberley, I remember the adult conversations that took place over my head, and facts like that provide a context for events. Thank you Hilary.

    Which part/s of the govt's Budgets did their funding come from in those days?

    If an institution was designated as a hospital - Seacliff, Avondale-Oakley-Carrington, Levin-Kimberley, Templeton, Cherry Farm, Sunnyside, etc. - it was part of the Department of Health gulag. In everyday parlance, the Health Department. Ministry of Health certainly wasn't in common use back then. Each institution was presided over by a medical superintendent. Below him (always a him) was the head attendant as chief of male staff and the matron with her army of female nurses. In the early 60s they all became redesignated as nurses.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Yes, in those days we had government departments - departments of Government.. The monolithic ministries didn't come till the 1980s/90s. There were also varieties of inspection in these departments. However, I have talked to people who had some of these roles and they were not always aware of or alerted to abusive practices. There were many staff doing their best and presenting a benign face of institutionalisation. It was also accepted as best practice so not much desire to look too deep. Remember that it took a whistleblowing staff member to reveal the use of ECT as torture in Lake Alice and still more years for the practice to stop.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    She uses precisely the same sentence in both.

    "was developed in 1960s New Zealand"
    cf
    "was a New Zealand invention in the 1960s."

    No biggie, just my mind read them differently.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    To which extent were state institutional responsibilities for care shared with religious institutions such as the Catholic or other churches?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 560 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Craig Young,

    I'm not sure about exact details but some children were sent to special schools or orphanages run by faith-based organisations. Sometimes families retained welfare guardianship such as with residential special schools but as the State had oversight of these places via licensing and inspection etc and let abuse happen the State has responsibility.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Caro13,

    Is there anyway to reunite the children put into state care in the 70s? Those that weren't adopted have very few avenues to try and find their birth parent, is this something that is being addressed in this process?

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Caro13,

    Finding files for survivors should be a part of this process.

    Some years ago Spectrum Care, a provider organisation, compiled a book of stories of some of the people who had come into their care since the institutions closed. The book was called Extraordinary Journeys and was an attempt to find out who the people were and give them identity. But as many were by then elderly and some didn't use words to communicate there were big gaps. Much sadness at estrangement from families in most situations. But it was a respectful attempt by the organisation to get to know those in their care.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Caro13, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I have a redacted file but getting anyone to really help and negotiate adequate contact seems impossible. There doesn't have to be actual physical/emotional abuse for a 'surendered' child to feel abandoned and undervalued. The right of the parent to remain anonymous seems to overrule the needs of the child.
    The Spectrum project looks interesting, I'll try and track down a copy.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2018 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Caro13,

    Hiya Caro13.

    Extraordinary Journeys.

    All the best with yours.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Thanks for finding that link Rosemary. And congratulations with the victory (that is a story for the memoirs, maybe).

    Just realised that in the post I made a mistake with the closure of Kimberley. It was 2006 not 2004. And I have been told that in the 1960s the State authority in charge of institutions was called the Department of Mental Hygiene.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    (that is a story for the memoirs, maybe).

    There must be some use for the 2x60l plastic crates of printouts we've managed to accumulate over the years. Just the OIA request proceeds alone take up half a crate. Absolutely amazing how much space seems to be needed to essentially say nothing. And then there are the documents I printed out instinctively...only to find they had disappeared from the web since I downloaded them. The information we had to collate for the case is quite spectacular.

    Department of Mental Hygiene.

    I'm thinking such a department sounds like a fine idea.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Disability neglect sadly continues. Distressed to hear about the so called carer of a high needs woman who, in a 6 hour day shift, spoke only a couple of sentences to her, offered no food/drink or help with toileting and watched loud videos with violence and swearing while ignoring her charge. Job description is to help with participation in the community.

    Agency would probably say that there is no one else who will do the work. (Even though it pays over $20 per hour.) Major workforce issues in the disability sector need to be urgently addressed regardless of the Royal Commission's findings.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    In 1972 there was a Royal Commission which looked at the situation with psychiatric and psychopaedic hospitals. The incoming Labour Government disestablished it and transferred it to a select committee investigation, basically saying get on with de-institutionalisation. The Commissioners decided to publish their recommendations on the 'mentally handicapped' anyway as they were unanimous in criticising government policy for the previous 20 years which had led to increased institutionalisation including of children. They provide figures of almost 5000 'mentally handicapped' children and adults then institutionalised. I do hope the new Commission takes all this context into account. Deep roots for ongoing injustice.

    http://www.moh.govt.nz/notebook/nbbooks.nsf/0/AFE2E39B246EE9114C2565D70018A747/$file/services-for-the-mentally-handicapped-3rd-report-royal-commission-inquiry.pdf

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Today's article in the Sunday Star Times by Andrea Vance shows another reason why many abuse survivors distrust the state and its agencies such as Crown Law. The state's resources were used on surveillance of Keith Wiffin in earlier attempts to seek justice for survivors.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/110721947/state-abuse-survivor-in-spying-scandal-says-govt-lawyers-set-out-to-vilify-him

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    "Instead of the Crown taking responsibility for what happened to us, they set out to try and vilify us and cast us in the role of the enemy and it just felt like more abuse,” Wiffin said.

    He’s not talking about the pigs back in the 1970s. The boot is going into that man on the ground now, by highly paid public servants, who live in comfortable houses.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4163 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    The Royal Commission is establishing a survivor panel. Applications open till the end of the month
    https://www.abuseinstatecare.royalcommission.govt.nz/News

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

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