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Gloriavale 'committed to change', Government minister says amid inquiries

The minister charged with the prevention of family and sexual violence believes Gloriavale is “committed to change”.

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The West Coast community has ordered an independent inquiry into claims of sexual abuse and mismanagement. Source: 1 NEWS

Police launched Operation Minneapolis last year into claims of sexual abuse against women and children at the West Coast commune.

A police spokesperson confirmed that two people are now before the court, but would not comment further as the matter is ongoing.

Oranga Tamariki refused to comment.

Minister Marama Davidson told 1 NEWS that the Government is well aware of the situation in Gloriavale.

She said front-line agencies Oranga Tamariki and police are actively engaged with the community, working together to ensure the safety of children in the short- and long-term.

“Police have advised they have found the Gloriavale community to be cooperative, and committed to change, but other than that, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,” said Davidson.

“It is worth noting that these matters are not always straight forward, and the nature of family violence and sexual violence means there is no quick fix.

“We need to ensure that communities understand what has happened; to understand the cyclical nature of abuse; and make the changes required to ensure it doesn’t happen again."

But former Gloriavale member Zion Pilgrim, who left the commune in September, isn’t convinced.

“The response from the minister is a typical response from a Government department which basically says that because the community is seemly 'co-operating' with police and Oranga Tamariki and 'committed to change' then the situation is being handled adequately and the obligations under law are being met.

“In other words, they [Gloriavale] know what to say to take the heat off themselves. Real effective changes will never come from within Gloriavale, they have proven this time and again,” said Pilgrim.

The father of 12 told 1 NEWS that it is more important to Gloriavale’s leadership to maintain their control over the people than to protect them from sexual assault.

“Keep in mind that the people themselves do not have access to technology that would allow them to contact the police directly to report assault.

“In the instances where members of Gloriavale have contacted police directly themselves they have been publicly shamed and humiliated by the leaders giving a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated,” said Pilgrim.

1 NEWS revealed on Sunday that Gloriavale’s trust has called in two lawyers to investigate the community.

Report into alleged abuse in Gloriavale won't be made public, says Leavers Trust manager

Gloriavale Leavers’ Support Trust spokeswoman Liz Gregory said the new inquiry shows the trustees might be trying to "strengthen themselves going forward".

Former member John Ready filed civil proceedings in the High Court at Greymouth in September last year, seeking the removal of the trustees that govern Gloriavale for poor conduct, mismanagement and dereliction of duty.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care is also looking into Gloriavale.

A Gloriavale spokesperson said they are “not interested” in talking about the developments.