Abuse survivors want independent redress agency

Abuse survivors are asking for an independent redress agency for both state and faith-based abuse to be set up immediately.

The Royal Commission into Abuse in Care should recommend the government establish such an agency they say.

While the Anglican Church told the Royal Commission it is open to the idea, its bishop of Christchurch Peter Carrell (pictured) says he has reservations.

In his opinion, an independent redress agency could be too unwieldy because of the number of churches in this country.

He wants redress left to individual churches, although someone independent could have the final say if required, he suggests.

“I wonder if it would be helpful to have a government-appointed Ombudsman, or similar title, to be … an appeal person or office so if someone engaging with the life of the church does end up not having a satisfactory experience, they feel they can go somewhere that is beyond the control of the church.”

Carrell says he is concerned about an independent body covering so many potential cases, reminding the Commissioners that the church in New Zealand is big and not all are well structured.

These are “not only the Salvation Army, Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches …[or] other mainstream denominations so called, like the Presbyterians and Methodists, there are literally thousands of churches …” he says.

“A concern I have is an independent body could mean a person complains and then there’s quite a delay in process.”

“I believe what we have set up for the Anglican Church in Aotearoa-New Zealand is a process that will be efficient in responding to complaints and timely in dealing with them.”

Carrell says if a national redress scheme were established it would need oversight.

The scheme would be focusing on 70 years of outstanding complaints, plus complaints that have not been well addressed or the redress was unsatisfactory. The independently overseen process would help to set things to right, he says.

The Anglican Church finished giving its evidence on redress to the Royal Commission yesterday. The Catholic Church is next to come before the Commission.


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