st josephs1-edited

Paula Bennett: NZ govt sees no need for sex abuse inquiry.

Update 9:57 14/11/2012:

We think that Paula Bennett may have been bullshitting the New Zealand electorate, but hey there’s nothing surprising in that.  Unfortunately for the New Zealand National Party, its police and Paula Bennett they haven’t managed to “sort it”.  

A group that investigates church-related sexual abuse says clergymen from New Zealand are among those that Australian police want to interview. (Radio New Zealand)

Australian police may interview NZ clergy (NZ Herald)

As our New Zealand based readers will be aware, here in Australia we have had a major scandal erupt exposing the Catholic Churches covering up of systemic sexual abuse of children. It all started last week with a very senior police officer, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox blowing the whistle on the church cover-up and the NSW Police forces handling of multiple cases.  Chief Inspector Fox, as is always the case with whistle-blowers, is now under attack himself. Yesterday yet another ex-police officer turned Parliamentarian, Troy Grant, entered the frey in support of Chief Inspector Fox and the allegations leveled at the church. The Australian Commonwealth Government and the NSW Governments have subsequently announced two commissions of inquiry;  the Victorian Government had already commenced its own earlier this year.

One of the allegations that has been made is that the church had been using transfers between diocese as a method in which to conceal pedophile priests. Moving the perpetrator to another parish interstate and on occasion New Zealand. Detective Fox named a priest that the church had sent to New Zealand so as to avoid prosecution.

With this in mind Lauda Finem have been scanning our trans Tasman neighbours media for any sign that they would pick up on the story, but no not a peep, sure a couple of stories about the Australian situation but nothing on how New Zealand might have been impacted and or how the New Zealand church hierarchy may have been complicit in allowing pedophile priests to set up in New Zealand. We know for a fact that this was the case in the St John of God scandal, with the convicted brothers having been transferred between the two countries.

So what about the New Zealand National Party controlled Government, where do they stand on all of this, if you were relying on the New Zealand media for an answer you would still be waiting. Australia’s channel Nine, however, was all over the story

The New Zealand government says it doesn’t see a need to follow Australia’s lead and launch an inquiry into historical child sex abuse.

The ugly face of New Zealand’s National Party Government: Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Discord and Democratic Devolution (SDDD)

Prime Minister Julia Gillard agreed on Monday to calls from federal Labor, Green and independent MPs for a royal commission into child sexual abuse in all religious institutions, state-based organisations, schools and not-for-profit groups such as scouts and sporting clubs.

It follows allegations of abuse by members of the Catholic church.

However, the New Zealand government has no plans to follow suit, with Social Development Minister Paula Bennett saying enough is already being done.

“I think the fact that we have been addressing historical abuse cases in this country, we have been doing it faster than it’s ever been done, we’ve been fronting up to some of the liability around that and settling a number of cases,” Ms Bennett said.

That includes the confidential listening and assistance service, through which people can raise allegations of abuse or neglect, or who have concerns relating to their time in state care before 1992.

“I think we’ve got other things in place that are addressing what, without a doubt, is cases of historical abuse.”

Source: Channel Nine News

The revelation that the New Zealand Government and the Minister responsible is of the view that they have it sorted frankly left us gobsmacked. What planet is this complete idiot Paula Bennett on when she claims:

“I think the fact that we have been addressing historical abuse cases in this country, we have been doing it faster than it’s ever been done, we’ve been fronting up to some of the liability around that and settling a number of cases,”

We’ve got news for Minister Bennett, New Zealand’s Catholic church is up to its neck in historic child abuse cases and the Government has done bugger all to address the offending, undoubtedly because of the potential financial liability various Government Departments would be facing; the Catholic orphanages and schools were required to have been inspected regularly by various agencies and they weren’t.

This is yet another fantastical example of how New Zealand, year in year out, manages to appear corruption free. The Kiwi Pollies simply refuse to see evil and even when they can’t avoid seeing it they refuse to acknowledge it, its all about keeping up appearances.

This time however the New Zealand Government and its Catholic church may just find it a little more difficult to continue concealing historic child abuse. When it comes to the Catholic Church there are no borders. The inter-relationship between Australian and New Zealand Catholic churches is huge and it would appear that Ms Bennett knows very little about how the church, in these circumstances, operates.

There’s another thing that Ms Bennett has foolishly failed to factor in, the unforeseen by product of the Australian Royal Commission. As Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox pointed out during one ABC interview many of the pedophile priests that had been committing serial offending involving hundreds of victims, when discovered, were exported to New Zealand.

Now Ms Bennett might like to think she can fool the New Zealand public but she has absolutely no sway on what the Australian Royal commission will unearth and that might just be as a result of New Zealander’s who were sexually abused as children by clerics supplying evidence by way of affidavit to the Australian Royal Commission, particularly where it might involve priests that had been transferred to New Zealand.

Bennett’s statements are farcical, the scale of the problem has already been exposed in Canada, the USA, Ireland, Germany and now Australia. A leading New Zealand sexual abuse support group, MSSAT, have been lobbying for action for years, but apparently Bennett hasn’t been listening:

An investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in New Zealand is in the best interests of the church, not the victims, an abuse support group says.

Former police commissioner John Jamieson today said he was investigating five allegations of historic sex abuse against members of the Catholic church.

Source: Historic sex abuse cases investigated (Fairfax)

Relatively recently New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops appointed an ex cop to head their so called professional standards unit, not just any ex-cop, they appointed one of New Zealand’s most corrupt, ex police commissioner John Jamieson.

During his tenure as Christchurch District Commander and later as the Police Commissioner Jamieson over-saw the cover-up of serious police corruption and misfeasance and he did so without batting an eyelid. The Churches website makes a point of painting  Jamieson as an independent non Catholic. Whilst its true that he is not a Catholic he has nevertheless had a long and very cosy association with the Catholic church, especially the Canterbury diocese.

We would suggest that the appointment of Jamieson to a role that is responsible for investigating historic child sexual abuse cases by the church was a deeply flawed decision.

Many victims of church abuse are deeply scarred, psychologically injured and traumatised, many have over the years committed suicide, many more have had adolescent run-ins with police only to be re-traumatised in the process.  So what was the church thinking when it decided to appoint a man that had a long history of concealing police abuse to the investigating role.

Did the Bishops seriously believe that victims of church sexual abuse would even consider taking their complaints to Jamieson…we very much doubt it. We’re of the view that Jamieson was selected in order to minimize the potential for successful allegations and complaints by victims. Interestingly, and perhaps a little telling, the church has managed to keep the cases that Jamieson was allegedly investigating in 2009 under wraps and the Government will have undoubtedly played some part in that.

The New Zealand Government needs to establish its own Royal Commission that runs parallel to and co-operates with the Australian Commissioner. Whats more the behaviour of the New Zealand Catholic Churches professional standards office, in that process, needs to be scrutinized.  If the Government fails to act the New Zealand victims need to look at contacting the Australian commission once the terms of reference have been set. Lauda Finem will be following this issue and regularly posting relevant information.

As the names of the offending priests that were transferred to or from New Zealand become available we will be posting the details. If any of our readers or someone they know are the victims of church abuse now is the time to act

Organisations and victim advocates:

Broken Rites Australia — fighting church sexual abuse since 1993

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP Australia)

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  • Laudafinem thanks for the reply. I’ve actually just submitted a report to the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) to shadow the NZ State’s report for their 6th periodic review before the UNCAT in 2015 see

    Re this: “Three of Lauda Finem’s more ardent supporters are also survivors of state sanctioned institutional child abuse – interestingly the settlements they each received were thousands more than the New Zealand Govt thought to pay you in their “higher end of the scale” payment (as noted in your blog) but then again the issue is obviously now taken more seriously in Australia.”

    Yes my claim was handled by the MOE and not the MSD so as Cooper Legal points out in their 13/14 UPR Report:

    “Related processes are established on an ad hoc basis in relation to other State Ministries when claims are made – such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health but with erratically different procedures and (particularly) outcomes.”

    Would it be possible for me to contact them or have them contact me? I have a few questions regarding their experiences in the claims process. I’m trying to speak to as many other claimants as possible.

    • Hi Grant

      Whilst we certainly support your efforts, we are however unable to disclose the identities of individuals who have been victims of historic intstitutional child abuse in New Zealand or Australia. In fact LF makes little distinction between the two countries in this area as many of the children effected by New Zealands institutional Child abuse have now been resident in Australia for decades, having left New Zealand once obtaining their autonomy in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Many of those individuals understandably now suffer from the serious long term effects of New Zealands institutionalised Child abuse, sexual, physical and emotional; those injuries being Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), recurrent chronic depression, amongst the raft of psychological disorders and injuries that have been diagnosed, more often than not much later in their lives. In many cases the New Zealand born victims and long term suffers of chronic disabilities resultant from this abuse are now dependant on our Australian disability pension and Medicare system. We have however passed on your request to a number of people that we are aware of; it will now be up to those individuals whether or not they wish to contact you. We will also add your blog to our published blog roll. We hope this assists, if there is anything else that we can do to help please feel free to email one of the team at

      • Thanks Laudafinem and by no means would I ask you to pass their contact details onto me without first having their say so. Better yet – pass my details on and leave upto them. This said, united we stand and divided we fall so hopefully they make contact so that I can present as good statistical data as possible to the UN (no names ever need to be mentioned). And yes re your comments about many historic abuse survivors from NZ now living in Australia. I immigrated permanently there myself in 1989. I was actually born in Australia and raised in NZ (bad luck there I’m afraid ). I have actually never been an NZ citizen and have always held an Australian passport. I have also spoken to several others who have moved to Australia. In fact most I have been in contact with do currently reside in Oz. Thanks again.

  • Grant,
    Thanks for your comment, from what we understand Owen Glenn had indeed offered to fund the cost of a royal commission into child abuse. Mr Glenns quite extraordinary offer was meet with an even more extraordinary statement from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key:

    (The Government) would need to take advice before deciding whether a Royal Commission, which Glenn has offered to fund, was necessary.

    “The Government spends an enormous amount of money on the welfare of youngsters and of at risk New Zealander’s. It’s a very complex issue… I think the Government is doing a lot but it’s great that other people are prepared to help and do a little more.”

    MR Glenn, to the best of our knowledge, is not now funding a private investigation. Rather he has donated a significant sum to one South Auckland charity set up to assist young men from troubled backgrounds with the residual (balance of the 80 Million) being up for grabs by other charities who may wish to put their hands up:

    New Zealand does indeed have a serious problem with historic and contemporary child abuse, serious abuse that goes well beyond the insidious sexual abuse problem and has encompassed physical and emotional abuse that has destroyed the lives and well being of thousands of young children and adolescents who were unfortunate enough to have been incarcerated in government run and state sanctioned institutions.

    Here in Australia a very broad royal commission of inquiry was recently announced following the public outrage when senior New South Wales Police officer, Chief Inspector Peter Fox, went public with the extent of the problem and the judicial institutional failure to tackle the issue.

    Prior to that however, the federal government had recognised the extent of the historical abuse perpetrated on children in care (state, religious and otherwise) and formally apologised to the, now, men and women that have been referred to as the Forgotten Australians (transcript of the apology below), something that New Zealand’s government has yet to do despite abuse having existed within its own jurisdiction over the past five decades or more.

    Transcript, Kevin Rudds apology to the “Forgotten Australians”

    Today, the Government of Australia will move the following motion of apology in the Parliament of Australia.

    We come together today to deal with an ugly chapter in our nation’s history.

    And we come together today to offer our nation’s apology.

    To say to you, the Forgotten Australians, and those who were sent to our shores as children without your consent, that we are sorry.

    Sorry – that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused.

    Sorry – for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care.

    Sorry – for the tragedy, the absolute tragedy, of childhoods lost,– childhoods spent instead in austere and authoritarian places, where names were replaced by numbers, spontaneous play by regimented routine, the joy of learning by the repetitive drudgery of menial work.

    Sorry – for all these injustices to you, as children, who were placed in our care.

    As a nation, we must now reflect on those who did not receive proper care.

    We look back with shame that many of you were left cold, hungry and alone and with nowhere to hide and nobody to whom to turn.

    We look back with shame that so many of you were left cold, hungry and alone and with nowhere to hide and with nobody, absolutely nobody, to whom to turn.

    We look back with shame that many these little ones who were entrusted to institutions and foster homes instead, were abused physically, humiliated cruelly, violated sexually.

    And we look back with shame at how those with power were allowed to abuse those who had none.

    And how then, as if this was not injury enough, you were left ill-prepared for life outside – left to fend for yourselves; often unable to read or write; to struggle alone with no friends and no family.

    For these failures to offer proper care to the powerless, the voiceless and the most vulnerable, we say sorry.

    We reflect too today on the families who were ripped apart simply because they had fallen on hard times.

    Hard times brought about by illness, by death and by poverty.

    Some simply left destitute when fathers damaged by war could no longer cope.

    Again, we say sorry for the extended families you never knew.

    We acknowledge the particular pain of children shipped to Australia as child migrants – robbed of your families, robbed of your homeland, regarded not as innocent children but regarded instead as a source of child labour.

    To those of you who were told you were orphans, brought here without your parents’ knowledge or consent, we acknowledge the lies you were told, the lies told to your mothers and fathers, and the pain these lies have caused for a lifetime.

    To those of you separated on the dockside from your brothers and sisters; taken alone and unprotected to the most remote parts of a foreign land – we acknowledge today that the laws of our nation failed you.

    And for this we are deeply sorry.

    We think also today of all the families of these Forgotten Australians and former child migrants who are still grieving, families who were never reunited, families who were never reconciled, families who were lost to one another forever.

    We reflect too on the burden that is still carried by our own children, your own children, your grandchildren, your husbands, your wives, your partners and your friends – and we thank them for the faith, the love and the depth of commitment that has helped see you through the valley of tears that was not of your own making.

    And we reflect with you as well, in sad remembrance, on those who simply could not cope and who took their own lives in absolute despair.

    We recognise the pain you have suffered.

    Pain is so very, very personal.

    Pain is so profoundly disabling.

    So, let us together, as a nation, allow this apology to begin to heal this pain.

    Healing the pain felt by so many of the half a million of our fellow Australians who were children in care – children in our care.

    And let us also resolve this day that this national apology becomes a turning point in our nation’s story.

    A turning point for shattered lives.

    A turning point for governments at all levels and of every political hue and colour to do all in our power to never let this happen again.

    For the protection of children is the sacred duty of us all.

    This is the motion that later this day this Government will commend to the Parliament of Australia.

    Care leavers from around Australia and abroad;

    Representatives of the Care Leavers of Australia Network;

    the Child Migrants Trust;

    the Alliance for Forgotten Australians;

    the Leader of the Opposition;

    my ministerial and parliamentary colleagues;

    representatives of the state governments of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria;

    Her Excellency the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom;

    His Excellency the Ambassador of Ireland;

    His Excellency High Commissioner for Malta;

    ladies and Gentlemen;

    friends, one and all;

    Our purpose today in this Great Hall of this great Australian Parliament is to begin to put right a very great wrong.

    To acknowledge the great wrong that has been done to so many of our children.

    And as a nation, to apologise for this great wrong.

    And, as a nation, to resolve that such systematic abuse should never happen again.

    The truth is this is an ugly story.

    And its ugliness must be told without fear or favour if we are to confront fully the demons of our past.

    And in so doing, animate, once again, the better angels of our human nature.

    I believe we do a disservice to those who have been the victims of abuse if in any way we seek to gloss things over.

    Because the truth is great evil has been done.

    And therefore hard things must be said about how this was all possible in this country of the fair go.

    Unless we are now transparent about what has been done in our nation’s name, our apology can never be complete.

    Because let us be clear – these children, both from home and abroad, were placed in care under the auspices of the state, validated by the laws of the land.

    It is estimated that more than 500,000 children were placed in care under various arrangements over the course of the last century.

    This is no small number.

    Let us imagine that more than half of the city of Adelaide was drawn from children who had been placed in institutional or foster care.

    This is no small number.

    In recent weeks, it has been my privilege to meet some of these children, most of them now middle-aged.

    And some perhaps a little older again.

    And I take the intervention from the floor – some younger than that again.

    Here is something of their stories as told to me.

    Last week I sat down with Garry for a cup of tea at his home here in Canberra.

    Garry told me he had five brothers and sisters.

    His father was an ex-serviceman who, in Gary’s words, drank himself to death.

    When Garry was four or five, he remembers being taken to the steps of the local police station with his brothers and sisters and told to wait until his mum returned, who had promised ice creams for all.

    She never returned.

    As Garry recalls, “I never got my ice-cream”.

    A fortnight later, he was committed as a ward of the state.

    He told me his twin brothers had been fostered to a good family in Wollongong.

    But he was taken to an institution and separated from his sisters, who were placed elsewhere.

    All this, at the age of four or five.

    Alone, absolutely alone, devastatingly alone in the world.

    He told me that, at the age of six or seven, he tried to hang himself from the swings because he wanted to be with his brothers.

    He was later placed in a rural home for older boys where he remained until the age of thirteen.

    He remembers being picked up from the train station on a freezing night in a big red truck with a row of numbered seats. He was told to sit in seat number 3.

    He was given, a number.

    As Garry said, “my number was always three, it sticks in your head”.

    The culture of this home, as Garry described it, was one of institutional violence as boys were made to beat each other, to beat other boys to the ground, in front of their peers.

    At 13, he was transferred to an institution where he remembers a kindly cook taking him under her wing.

    But it was during this time Garry says, he suffered sexual abuse from other men.

    Garry later got into drugs to help escape the psychological torture he suffered through years of what was so-called institutional care.

    Garry has led a tough life.

    But Garry is a survivor.

    He proudly introduced me to his seven beautiful children – all doing well at school and the older ones already planning for their future.

    And showed me with pride the carpenter’s trade certificate he earned through study in 2005.

    When asked by CLAN (a community organisation established to help survivors of institutional abuse, and known to so many of you here today) when asked by CLAN to write down his story Garry said, “what am I going to write down, you can’t put tears on paper”.

    It has also been my privilege to sit down with twins Robyn and Judy last Monday when I was in Bathurst.

    They told me too, that their mother left home when they too were barely five years old. They were then placed in a church home.

    Judy remembers the day they were first taken to the home and her sister Robyn bolted from the gate and ran away. They later found her and dragged her back.

    Robyn and Judy remember that they kept waiting and waiting for just someone, someone to come and pick them up – but no-one, no-one ever came.

    They recall being hit with belt buckles and bamboo.

    They said the place they grew up in was utterly, utterly loveless.

    They said it always made them feel like second-class citizens.

    At the local school, they were described as “Home Girls”.

    They looked with envy as other children were picked up by their parents after school.

    Robyn told me that, forty years later, “it stays with you, I still dream about it”.

    But you know something? Both Robyn and Judy too are fighters.

    While emotionally scarred by their experience, they too have beautiful children and partners who care for them. But the wounds run deep. They run very deep.

    And then there was Gus.

    I spoke to Gus on the phone, he is from Queensland.

    Brought out to Australia from Ireland, again at the age of four or five, in the 1950s – as a child apparently born out of wedlock, having earlier spent time in a Catholic institution in Ireland.

    Gus’ story was truly horrific. His was a tale of physical and sexual abuse over more than a decade. In Gus’ words, “that did me terrible mental damage”.

    He finally tracked down his mum, ten years ago.

    She had gone to the United States. But he then discovered she had passed away.

    Gus had limited educational opportunities and has been in and out of gaol a number of times during his life.

    Gus, reflecting back across the years, and in the great tradition of Australian understatement, said he had led a ‘colourful life’.

    Gus too, is a fighter and survivor.

    Whether it is Garry or Gus or Robyn or Judy, there is an eerie similarity to so many of the stories. Stories of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

    Stories of the lack of love. Experiences which stay with them to this day.

    Each told me that such was the trauma they experienced in institutional care that they suffered such things as bed-wetting for many, many years – while in care.

    This, of course, is deeply personal. Deeply, deeply personal.

    But each wanted me to share this part of their story too because it underlined the trauma they had gone through.

    But trauma with an ugly double-twist because each time this happened, they were publicly humiliated and publicly punished by those supposedly responsible for their care.

    In the conversations I was privileged to have with these great Australian survivors, for each of them this apology today was important.

    And for countless thousands and tens of thousands besides, this apology is important.

    Important because it does not seek to hide that which they experienced.

    An apology that acknowledges the very personal pain that has been caused.

    An apology which, it is hoped, will bring some healing balm to wounded souls.

    And not just to the handful that I have been so honoured to meet.

    But to all those whose cases are reflected in the Senate reports over many, many years. And to those also whose stories will remain forever untold.

    There are tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of these stories, each as important as the other, each with its own hurts, its own humiliations its own traumas – and each united by the experience of a childhood without love, of childhood alone.

    For some, this has become a very public journey of healing. For others, it remains intensely private – not even to be discussed with closest family and friends even today.

    And such privacy must of course, be respected.

    Whatever your journey today, and whether you are here in Parliament House in Canberra with us or watching or listening across the country or across the world, my hope today is to reach out to you all on behalf of this nation, Australia, and to speak what has so often been unspoken.

    And to offer you this profound apology.

    To apologise for the pain that has been caused.

    To apologise for the failure to offer proper care.

    To apologise for those who have gone before us and ignored your cries for help.

    Because children, it seems, were not to be believed.

    Only those in authority, it seems, were the ones to be believed.

    To apologise for denying you basic life opportunities; including so often a decent education.

    To apologise also, for just how long it has taken for the Australian Government to say sorry – so many Senate reports, nearly a decade of deliberation, and a unanimous recommendation that the Commonwealth apologise.

    And finally we do so today.

    Today is also a day for all those who have refused to remain silent.

    The champions of this day.

    Those driven by sheer tenacity.

    By an unswerving sense of justice.

    Those who kept the flame of hope alight.

    People like Margaret Humphreys, people like Harold Haig, people like Leonie Sheedy and Joanna Penglase, people like Bonnie Djuric, and People like Walter Tusyn who campaigned tirelessly for this day as Tasmanian representative of the Alliance for Forgotten Australians, only to pass away on the 30th of last month.

    And people like former Senator Andrew Murray, because Andrew Murray’s work has simply been extraordinary.

    I rang Andrew recently and asked him about the importance of this apology.

    His response was succinct when he wrote in reply:

    “the Senate (and others) have carefully examined these matters and rightly and unanimously recommended an official Commonwealth apology. As a result, the states and the main churches, charities and agencies have apologised (although some are better apologies than others…),

    Andrew Murray continued “it is time for the Commonwealth to complete the circle.”

    It is also important today to honour the advocacy groups who have stood by you through thick and thin – advocacy groups such as: Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN); groups like The Child Migrants Trust, advocacy groups such as the Alliance for Forgotten Australians – and many, many others.

    But beyond these individuals and organisations stand an army of people who have quietly gone about their business over the last decade or more to take this story of sustained institutional and personal abuse from the margins of government deliberation to the very centre of Government consideration.

    For all victims of abuse, today, you are all owed a profound debt of gratitude for having stood by them with such solidarity and strength.

    So what then is to be done?

    The Australian Government has assembled a comprehensive response to recommendations contained in the two Senate reports – “Lost Innocence” and “Forgotten Australians revisited”.

    This response will be tabled in the Parliament in the coming days.

    The overwhelming message I have received and Minister Macklin has been receiving has been the need to be heard, the need to be acknowledged and the need for the nation to apologise.

    It is important however, that this not be regarded as a single point in history. Our view is that it would be helpful for the nation, however painful, to properly record your experiences, where you deem that to be appropriate.

    This can assist the nation to learn from your experiences.

    As a result, the Australian Government is supporting projects with both the National Library and the National Museum which will provide future generations with a solemn reminder of the past.

    To ensure not only that your experiences are heard, but also that they will never ever be forgotten.

    And in doing so we must always remember the advice of the sages – that a nation that forgets its past is condemned to relive it.

    Second, we also know that you are deeply concerned about practical support to help survivors and their families negotiate what can still so often be damaged lives.

    For example, I know many of you are concerned about living in aged care facilities as you grow older and the need for access to proper aged care.

    The Government will identify care leavers as a special-needs group for aged-case purposes, to ensure that providers are assisted to provide care that is appropriate and responsive, and provide a range of further counselling and support services.

    Third, many Forgotten Australians and child migrants continue to need help in tracing their families. That is why we’ll be providing a National Find and Connect Service that will provide Australia-wide coordinated family tracing and support services for care leavers to locate personal and family history files and the reunite with members of their families, where that is possible.

    The service will provide a national database that will collate and index existing state identified records into a national searchable data base, accessible to state and other care leaver services and also directly to care leavers themselves.

    Fourth, to make sure you are well represented, we have provided and continue to provide funding to advocacy groups such as the Child Migrant Trust, the Alliance for Forgotten Australians and Care Leavers of Australia Network, as these organisations continue to work hard to put your concerns front and centre.

    Finally, governments must continue to commit to the systematic auditing, inspection and quality assurance of the child protection services they administer today.

    Some 28,000 – 30,000 children are currently in the care of State and Territory Governments around Australia. Governments must put in place every protection possible to reduce the risk of mistreatment in the future.

    And, as Andrew Murray reminded me recently,

    “if you hurt a child, a harmed adult will often result…aggregate those adults who were harmed in care and the social, the economic, the personal cost is huge”.

    In Andrew’s words, we must do everything possible to break the cycle.

    I recognise this is a difficult, complex and sensitive area of policy. But the nation must continue to lift its game in doing whatever practicably can be done to provide for the proper protection of little ones, of children.

    Let us, therefore today in this Great Hall of this great Australian Parliament, seize this day and see this national apology to our Forgotten Australians and our Child Migrants as a turning point for the future.

    For child migrants, for many of you, your mothers and fathers were alive and were made to relinquish their right to be your parents and to watch you grow into adulthood.

    Some of you have said you would like to place the apology on the graves of your mothers and fathers back in England and on their graves here in this country as well. Today we dedicate this apology to them as well.

    For the Australian-born care leavers, or ‘Homies’ or ‘State Wards’ or the ‘Foster kids’, the Senate named you the ‘Forgotten Australians’.

    Today, and from this day forward, it is my hope that you will be called the ‘Remembered Australians’.

    However, whatever I might say today, the truth is, I cannot give you back your childhood. I cannot rewind the clock on your suffering. Nor can I erase the past.

    But what I can do with you is celebrate the spirit that has lived within you over the decades. A spirit that has stubbornly refused to be beaten.

    A spirit that has turned you into the survivors that you are. The spirit that has enabled you to serve your country in times of war, even if you had been deserted by your country.

    The spirit that enabled you to bring up families, despite the broken families from which you came. The spirit that enabled you to work and to make your own contribution to this, our land Australia.

    And the spirit that caused you to hold fast that one day you would be heard, one day you would be believed, one day you would be acknowledged.

    And that, one day, Australia’s sense of a fair-go would finally prevail. That our fair go would be extended to you, and that the nation would offer you the public apology that you deserve.

    My message to you today is that that day has finally come.

    Let me also say this.

    You were in no way to blame for what happened to you because it was the nation who failed you.

    The institutions the nation created for your care, failed you.

    To all of you here today in this Great Hall. To all of you watching around the nation.

    Today is your day. Today is your special day. Today is your achievement.

    This morning, I spoke to a 98 year old lady in my electorate in Brisbane.

    Her name is Vera. If Vera is watching, ‘hi Vera’.

    I’m sorry that Vera can’t be with us in Canberra today.

    She said that the pain that she suffered having spent five years in a Queensland orphanage was pain suffered a lifetime ago.

    But her hope that today, as a 98 year old lady is that finally this day could herald a closing of the book on the past.

    Today is for people just like Vera.

    And today let us now go forward together, go forward with confidence, go forward with confidence into the future – as equal, as valued and as precious members of this one great family that we call Australia.


    • laudafinem it’s Owen Glenn (not Jennings). And yes it’s a disgrace. What’s even more disgraceful is the way the NZ media has presented Owen Glenn. I was actually one of those who was abused in state care and recently sued the NZ Government over this Once again they are violating our human rights through the claims process

      • Thanks for pointing out the mistake Grant, better late than never. Good luck with your blog mate. Three of Lauda Finem’s more ardent supporters are also survivors of state sanctioned institutional child abuse – interestingly the settlements they each received were thousands more than the New Zealand Govt thought to pay you in their “higher end of the scale” payment (as noted in your blog) but then again the issue is obviously now taken more seriously in Australia.

    • As far as I understand Owen Glenn has invested several million into the inquiry which asks the question what would NZ look like if it was the best place in the world to raise children? It doesn’t look at historic abuse at all. As you say, Australia is light years ahead of NZ re historic child abuse having held several State based royal commissions and now a federally based RC which is undoubtedly the most significant investigation in any country of the world. The Glenn inquiry is a great thing but has also been extremely controversial with seasoned experts resigning. So while any inquiry is a step forward (versus no inquiry at all) the Glenn inquiry I expect is far too broad and fails to look at historic abuse. I also think that the inquiry has political motivations behind it and the fact that Mr Glenn has used a business model raises some concerns. As such, the NZ State should be funding a RC to look at historic abuse. This said, this is extremely unlikely. They have done their best to hide the facts from public view so a public inquiry would be unlikely.

      • Hi Grant,

        Our understanding is that Glenn’s investigation is very general, aimed more at the highly unusual and extremely prevalent contemporary issue of family child abuse in New Zealand. The cases, if any are investigated, and issues that the Glenn Inquiry are likely to look at relate, we understand, more specifically to child abuse as a contemporary societal problem unique to New Zealand, especially amongst the countries lower socioeconomic and disadvantaged ethnic groups. We therefore doubt that the inquiry will even touch on historic institutional abuse. The fact is that Glenn’s panel of experts are, in our view, not qualified or well resourced enough to look at historic events or specific cases. Having said that however those New Zealanders who have suffered historic abuse can, to some extent, treat the findings of the Australian Royal Commission as if it applied to New Zealand, as the same conditions and abuse existed in both countries during the periods in question and in a lot of cases the religeous orders responsible were being administered from Australian headquarters.

      • Definitely agree laudafinem re the Australian RC. And yes, NZ has serious issues with child poverty… i.e.

        Between the years of 2007 – 2010 data showed that 1 in 6 Pakeha children (white European), 1 in 4 Pacific Island children and 1in 3 Māori children were living in poverty (figures show that children in homes below the poverty line increased from 22 per cent in 2007 to 28 per cent in 2010, and had dropped back only slightly to 27 per cent by 2012)


        New Zealand has the dubious distinction of having the fastest growing rate of social inequality of all OECD countries.

        This said, the National Party through Paula Bennett and her highly flawed white paper – contrary to all expert opinion – would have us believe child abuse and poverty aren’t related.

        The Glenn Inquiry is certainly a great thing if for no other reason than to put the spotlight on the issues NZ faces re child abuse. It’s outcomes are yet to be seen but he is going to invest a lot of money into advertising at the next election to force political parties to address the issues surrounding child abuse.

  • I’ve actually set up a site myself to expose New Zealand’s historic abuse situation at – It’s a work in progress and has a long way to go. Would love some contributors:-) I only have so many hours in the day.

    However, after setting up the site one major event has transpired that will perhaps change the BS political rhetoric that the NZ National Party has been spinning and that is that Owen Glenn is funding a private inquiry to the tune of 80 million dollars. While it isn’t a historic abuse inquiry its makes the NZ Gov look very very bad – particularly given they rejected his initial offer to fund a royal commission. What’s certain is that NZ has handled its child abuse problem in the most shameful way a country could and while countries such as the UK and Australia who have a far better track record of child abuse than NZ are funding commissions of inquiry NZ is doing its best to hide the facts. Paula Bennett’s white paper was a disgrace and most independent experts agree on this. What I am personally hoping is that historic abuse survivors from NZ can take the NZ Government to the international courts and hold them accountable there for not only their gross failure to protect children but also for pain and suffering caused by the systemic cover up the NZ Gov has engaged in re the historic abuse cases.

  • very sad. Disappointed in NZ today.

  • Ken Clearwater plays an important role in advocating for real victims of sexual abuse.

    Readers should be made aware that he is on record as stating that “there are cases of ritual abuse in this country”
    [ ]

    Clearwater is also on record of putting the utterly discredited statistic “one in four girls will be sexually abused in this country before their 16th birthday” [same ref].

    Advocacy statistics are not always balanced nor based in evidence tested reality.

    Sexual abuse of children is an abhorrent practice and should never be concealed or left unpunished. All allegations, including historical, should be examined on the evidence.

    However, the area of sexual crime in particular has a track record of being susceptible to moral panic and hijacking by those with socio-political agendas. This can result in classic witch-hunts and miscarriages of justice as evidenced in NZ (Peter Ellis Case 1990s), USA (numerous cases e.g. McMartin, Kelly Michaels 1980s and 1990s) UK (Bryn Estyn 1990s, Jersey Island “scandal” in 2000s) the list of examples could continue for pages.

    when proceeding in these areas, reliance on testable evidence, impartial research and the avoidance of emotion driven panic or outrage is of paramount importance.

    Richard Christie

    • Richard I’m somewhat intrigued by your claim as to Clearwater is also on record of putting the utterly discredited statistic “one in four girls will be sexually abused in this country before their 16th birthday”. Why was this research discredited?

      • Richard as you never responded to my question I thought I’d do some research on this myself because I cite the same figure on my website and was concerned it was inaccurate. Sorry mate but it looks like you have it wrong – “one in four girls (in NZ) will be sexually abused in this country before their 16th birthday”. This figure is being cited by other credible researchers and was recently cited by/at the UN. If it was not accurate it wouldn’t be used and certainly you seem to be the only one saying this figure is an “utterly discredited statistic”. Actually it is fairly consistent with research deriving from some other countries also.

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