Survivors have little hope in churches changing

little hope in churchese

Survivor groups are not hopeful that the Royal Commission into the Abuse in Care will bring around change in churches.

A spokesperson for the Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-Based Institutions, Liz Tonks, told RNZ that “victim-survivors were not hopeful because their experiences of churches is they have not been able to trust them in the past.”

”They’ve known for a long time, they have never taken action.

“Survivors have been negotiating with them and telling them they need redress for decades and decades and they know the age of some of the survivors and they are likely to die without it if it’s not given to them, so they have had plenty of chance to stand up and take action,” she said.

Tonks told RNZ that the churches have not changed and suggests they are not likely to.

”It’s irrefutable now. They say they are listening, they say they are learning. We think there is enough evidence that suggests they should have learnt by now.”

Similarly, the newly formed survivor group in New Zealand, SNAP, is calling on churches to ‘own the truth’.

Spokesperson Christopher Longhurst, also a professional church theologian, accuses churches of a lack of action and is calling on the Royal Commission not to take church witnesses at face value.

”We hope that for example in assessing church protocols and church documents submitted to the hearing that the commission looks for signs of concrete action has (sic) taken place. For the application of what has been promised because we know from our experience that what the churches are promising, has promised, has not been delivered.”

”Despite what the church are (sic) saying about listening to us and being compassionate, constantly time and time again members of our network have evidence to show the contrary, so we simply hope the Royal Commission will not take what these witnesses will present at face value”, Longhurst told RNZ.

This week the Abuse in Care Royal Commission began the second part of a two week hearing into faith-based redress.

It follows, in late 2020, the Commission receiving shared personal testimonies and survivor experiences of being abused while in church care.

During this two week hearing, a select group of leaders from the Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian Churches and the Salvation Army, will appear in front of the Commission.

According to David Cohen writing on RNZ, the $78 million Royal Commission is the most expensive royal commission in New Zealand’s history.

“To date, it (the $78 million) has mainly been a cash cow for the policy analysts, the consultants, the career-enhancing secondees and others among its 197 employees, rather than for anybody who actually suffered abuse in any of these old places between 1950 and 1999”, writes Cohen.


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