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Making historic abuse claims

Next steps

If you get a lawyer to help you, they will let you know what the next steps are. Usually, they will begin by looking for a “practice failure” by the Department of Social Welfare. Sometimes, even a very low-level practice failure will be enough to make a claim, especially if the abuse was physical and is covered by ACC.

If you chose to contact one of the two Ministries directly, they will talk you through the claims process and arrange for you to receive a copy of your personal files. You will then have to arrange a meeting with the Ministry to discuss your experience. You are entitled to bring a support person with you, such as a friend or whānau member or a lawyer. The Ministry will then conduct an enquiry into the claim, including into your personal file and whether you were in State care at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect.

The Ministry can offer an acknowledgement of your experience and an apology, as well as a financial payment, counselling and access to further services. If the complaint is about physical or sexual abuse, the Ministry may refer the information to the Police.

The average settlement amount for a historic abuse claim is just under $14,500.

Claims can take years to resolve. However, you can halt your claim at any time during the process.

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