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Human rights lawyer sceptical about expansion of inquiry into child abuse in state care

The Government has announced it is expanding the scope of its long-promised inquiry into the abuse of children in state care to include those in the care of churches.

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Sonya Cooper says one of the major issues is that the time frame should have been expanded. Source: Breakfast

Human Rights lawyer Sonya Cooper is sceptical about the expansion, however.

“One of the major issues for us in terms of the time frame that it came as far forward as possible, we wanted as many people who have been through state care to be able to be included and to have a voice in the royal commission," she told TVNZ's Breakfast. 

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Breakfast’s Jack Tame wondered why the parameters of the inquiry ended in 1999, the year the last Labour Government came into power. Source: Breakfast

The time frame for the inquiry is from 1950 to 1999. The Government has expanded the inquiry into churches but refuses to expand the time frame.

“Are they leaving out in the cold all of those people after 2000, in terms of any recommendation as to rehabilitation and compensation, that’s a very big question for us.

“The Royal Commission at least has discretion to hear from those most recent people in care, but making recommendations about them, that’s silent.”

In Australia 60 per cent of abuse cases were found to have happened in faith-based institutions.

Cooper says that care in Australia is very different from care in New Zealand.

"In Australia most care was historically provided by churches, in New Zealand that is not the case.  Most care is provided by the state so New Zealand is very different from Australia."

She says the churches would have been covered anyway because they would have had contact through the state.