Making historic abuse claims

Making a claim

Who can make a claim?

Usually, it is the person who has been directly affected by the abuse who makes the claim.

You are eligible to make a historic abuse claim to the Ministry of Social Development if:

  • you were in the care or custody of either the Child Welfare Division, the Department of Welfare or Child, Youth or Family, and
  • you were in their care or custody before 2008, and
  • you believe you suffered abuse or neglect while you were in their care or custody, and
  • you believe that you suffered harm because of it, and
  • you are not personally a current client of Oranga Tamariki.

You are eligible to make a historic abuse claim to the Ministry of Education if:

  • you attended a Residential Special School run by the old Department of Education, and
  • you believe you suffered abuse or neglect while you were in their care, and
  • you believe that you suffered harm because of it, and
  • the mistreatment happened before 1989.

If you have suffered abuse or neglect in the care or custody after 2008 in the care of Oranga Tamariki, there is a different claims process that you can follow. For more information about this, see a lawyer about this, or contact your local Community Law Centre.

Proving you were in “state care”

For all historic abuse claims, you will have to prove that you were in “state care” at the time of the abuse. State care includes (but is not limited to):

  • foster care
  • living with your own family under the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare
  • ‘special schools’ for learning or behavioural difficulties
  • health camps under Stand Children’s Services
  • in a children’s home
  • in psychiatric care
  • in transport between care facilities
  • in any disability care or facility.
Next Section | How to make a claim

Did this answer your question?

Dealing with Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children replaced Child, Youth and Family in April 2017. Its website has a range of information about the care and protection issues discussed in this chapter.

Phone: 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)

Family Court

The Family Court website has a wide variety of pamphlets and other information on issues relating to children. Access pamphlets online or order hard copies:

Phone: 0800 587 847


Barnardos delivers a range of child and family services and early childhood care and education services throughout New Zealand. Barnardos also produces a range of fact sheets about children, parenting, child abuse and neglect, and school and family matters. For more information contact:

Phone: 0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627)

Children’s Commissioner

Contact the Office of the Children’s Commissioner:

Phone: 0800 224 453

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner looks to ensure that children’s rights are respected and upheld. It advocates for the best interests of all children and young people in New Zealand.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai

This is a non-government advocacy service for children and young people in state care. Set up in April 2017, “VOYCE” stands for “Voice of the Young and Care Experienced”.

Youthline Aotearoa

Phone: 0800 37 66 33
Free text: 234

Youthline provides free counselling, information and referral services.

Women’s Refuge

Women’s Refuge provides 24-hour support, advocacy and accommodation for women and their children experiencing family violence.

Crisis Line

Phone: 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)

Women’s Refuge provides a free phone line for people anywhere in New Zealand. Get information, advice and support about family violence as well as help in a crisis.


A range of resources and fact sheets are available online.

Phone: (04) 802 5078

Office of the Ombudsman

Free phone: 0800 802 602


Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top