Chair of Abuse in Care Inquiry to step down

Published on 2nd Sep, 2019

The Chair of the Abuse in State Care Inquiry, Sir Anand Satyanand, announced his resignation on 6 August, to take effect in November 2019. Sir Anand was appointed Chair of the Inquiry following its establishment by the Government in February 2018.

Sir Anand Satyanand.

Sir Anand said, ‘it has been a privilege to Chair the Abuse in Care Inquiry during its setup phase.

‘When the Terms of Reference were announced by the Government in November 2018, the scope of the Inquiry was widened to include faith-based institutions and the scale of the work increased markedly. Because of that and the fact the ‘set-up’ and development phase of the Inquiry is nearly complete, I have opted to step aside for a new Chair who can lead the Inquiry through to the completion of this important process,’ he said.

“It has been both heartening and heart-breaking for the Commissioners and I to hear from survivors first-hand about their experiences of abuse. Sharing your experience takes courage and determination and I have admiration and respect for the survivors we’ve heard from for their bravery. The scale and the trauma of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse experienced by many people in this country is profound.

‘The Abuse in Care Inquiry is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change how New Zealand cares for children, young people and vulnerable adults. I am sure, when implemented by Government, this Inquiry’s recommendations will see children and young people supported to thrive in safe environments, not abused or neglected.’

Abuse in Care Executive Director Mervin Singham said the Inquiry’s work to date is due in large measure to Sir Anand’s drive and determination.

‘It was Sir Anand who pushed for the inclusion in the Inquiry of faith-based institutions, reference to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and discretion around the dates ‒ that is, before 1950 and after 1999.

‘It is noteworthy the Government accepted the recommendations as appropriate and necessary, and supports the direction the Inquiry is taking,’ said Mr Singham.

Sir Anand will leave the Royal Commission in November following the first public contextual hearing, 29 October – 8 November, where Commissioners will hear evidence from expert witnesses.

The Government will appoint a new Chair of the Abuse in Care Inquiry by November.

The Royal Commission into historical abuse in state care and faith-based institutions, on Tuesday 20 August, met representatives of organisations for the care of abused children. The ‘procedural’ meeting was the first step in a long process.

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.’

Public hearings begin at the end of October 2019.

Published in WelCom September 2019

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