Scope of Royal Commission clarified

royal commission

Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions has confirmed that its investigation will include those abused by any person in a pastoral role in a faith-based institution.

The clarification came in a “plain English” version of the terms of reference for the royal commission posted on its website on Monday.

The royal commission will examine any situation where the state or a faith-based institution “took responsibility for looking after a person”.

That includes abuse that occurred in family homes, on day trips and in other out-of-church settings.

After the Government decided to add abuse in faith-based institutions to the scope of the Royal Commission, victims and survivors and their advocates were concerned about what “in the care of faith-based institutions” included and excluded.

They were concerned it included only abuse that took place within the physical confines of a faith-based institution.

The announcement is being described as a change-in-scope by advocates but the Royal Commission says it is only a clarification of the existing scope.

The clarification has been welcomed by the Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, Michael Dooley.

Dooley said it would help encourage survivors to come forward.

“From my perspective as a bishop it is important that people feel safe to come forward to report abuse and the clarification seems to encourage people to do that,” he said.

The official text of the relevant part the Act establishing the royal commission reads:

In the care of faith-based institutions means where a faith-based institution assumed responsibility for the care of an individual, including faith-based schools, and—
(a) for the avoidance of doubt, care provided by faith-based institutions excludes fully private settings, except where the person was also in the care of a faith-based institution:
(b) for the avoidance of doubt, if faith-based institutions provided care on behalf of the State (as described in clause 17.3(b) above), this may be dealt with by the inquiry as part of its work on indirect State care:
(c) as provided in clause 17.3(d) above, care settings may be residential or non-residential and may provide voluntary or non-voluntary care. The inquiry may consider abuse that occurred in the context of care but outside a particular institution’s premises:
(d) for the avoidance of doubt, the term ‘faith-based institutions’ is not limited to one particular faith, religion, or denomination. An institution or group may qualify as ‘faith-based’ if its purpose or activity is connected to a religious or spiritual belief system. The inquiry can consider abuse in faith-based institutions, whether they are formally incorporated or not and however they are described:
(e) for the avoidance of doubt, ‘abuse in faith-based care’ means abuse that occurred in New Zealand. (Clause 17.4)

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