Royal Commission – small first steps in a marathon journey

royal commission

The Royal Commission into historical abuse in state care and faith-based institutions on Tuesday met representatives of organisations responsible for the care of abused children.

Tuesday’s hearing was “procedural”.

It is the first step in a very long and complex process.

The inquiry has grown since its inception to become the largest in New Zealand’s history.

And it is the broadest of its sort in any comparable country.

It is primarily expected to examine cases of abuse from 1950 to 1999.

Some 100,000 children were in care during that period.

But the Commission also has the discretion to investigate cases from before or after that time.

At the hearing, each of the five commissioners delivered prepared opening statements.

They offered welcome, described the format, the support which will be available, and provided definitions of legal terms.

Lawyers for those appearing before the Royal Commission then addressed the Commission.

Sally McKenchie, the lawyer representing the Catholic church, expressed a willingness to work with the Commission.

“We appreciate it will be very difficult for many survivors to come before you, and we acknowledge their bravery and courage and participation.

“And we acknowledge them and the harms that have been done for those who should have been cared for by the church.

“The Catholic Church will come before you, in the spirit of cooperation and transparency.”

Last week, the Crown announced it was lifting confidentiality obligations.

Commissioner Judge Coral Shaw said she hoped the churches would also lift obligations so that survivors could speak freely.

On Tuesday, the Salvation Army said it would also lift any confidentiality obligations.

The Catholic and Anglican churches are considering wavering any confidentiality agreements.

Lawyers Sonja Cooper and Annette Sykes also addressed the commission.

The soon to be retiring chair of the commission Sir Anand Satyanand closed the hearing, marking it as an “important step in the Royal Commission’s life”.

Public hearings begin at the end of October.

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News category: New Zealand.

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