Church studying faith-based redress Cabinet paper


The Catholic Church’s group dealing with the Royal Commission into State and Faith-Based Care say it is studying a Cabinet paper released by Public Services Minister Chris Hipkins.

Hipkins has plans to cut a 3000-strong waiting list of claimants of abuse in state care – such as children’s homes – by making “rapid payments”.

Survivors of abuse in religious and faith-based settings are not included.

Hipkins said the new scheme would cover both state and religious claimants, but faith-based institutions would for now provide their own claims and redress processes.

“While we are engaging with faith-based institutions, it is currently up to each of them to determine whether to introduce faster payment processes,” he said.

“It’s worth noting that faith-based institutions can often settle claims more quickly than these agencies.”

Dave Mullin (pictured), who leads the Te Rōpū Tautoko catholic church group dealing with the Commission and the Crown Response Unit, said they were closely studying the Cabinet paper that detailed Hipkins’ announcement.

“We are seeking clarity from government officials on how and when matters of faith-based redress will be incorporated into this process, and we look forward to engaging in the work.

“Meanwhile, the church asks survivors who – due to serious ill-health or age – may not be able to engage with the proposed independent redress system, to approach the Church’s National Office for Professional Standards” said Mullin.

However, some survivors say it would be better if the government got involved in the process.

In testimony given earlier in the year to the Royal Commission, a number of church organisations said they offered survivors an apology, an ex gratia payment based on the level of abuse, and the offer of counselling.

Testimony to the Royal Commission showed the response between various religious organisations inside the Catholic Church was not even.

Different church and faith-based groups, eg Anglican, Brethren, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Salvation Army, also responded differently from each other.

Abuse survivor Steve Goodlass said the government had failed to honour the intent of the commission’s interim payment recommendation.

“It’s disturbing because the government has just redefined stuff in there and completely ostracised one group or has discriminated against faith-based survivors,” he said.

“Even people in the state systems, they’re getting shafted again. Why hold a commission when you’re just going to exclude people and ignore key principles? It’s just awful,” he said.

Unhappy with how the Bishops National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) has settled abuse cases, survivor group SNAP focussed solely on the Catholic Church’s response saying it wants a more immediate reply from the Catholic Church.

It also wants the bishops to set up an independent committee with input from SNAP Aotearoa and its survivor members.

When NOPS was established, it was a body of “second instance”, a place where survivors could appeal if they thought a Catholic Church body had not properly handled their case.

It was headed by retired Police Commissioner John Jamieson.

Some years later, under the leadership of former priest and social worker Mr Bill Kilgallon, NOPS became the body of “first instance” for most Catholic religious groups.

NOPS continues to operate as a place of first instance under the current director, former lawyer Virginia Noonan.


  • RNZ
  • Supplied
Additional reading

News category: Great reads, New Zealand, Palmerston.

Tags: , , , , , , ,