Payouts of $5000 for those abused in state care labelled 'abysmal' by one lawyer

Pay outs of $5000 for those abused in state care have been labelled “abysmal” by one lawyer.

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The compensation figure emerged at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry. Source: 1 NEWS

The amount for those who had been subjected to strip searches, assaults and the denial of food and clothes while in state care emerged at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

Just how the Crown is dealing with more than 4000 claims is under scrutiny with the Commission questioning the low level pay outs.

Abuse survivor lawyer Sonya Cooper says compensation has been kept artificially low by a fast-track process.

“It was definitely fiscally driven, MSD (Ministry of Social Development) asked Cabinet for a sum of money, it got that sum approved, it then realised it hadn't asked for enough money,” she said.

“When you think of settlements, the average is under $20,000, they are abysmal and they no way reflect at all the actual losses to the claimant group.”

From 2007 to 2019 it's cost the ministry around $77 million, with only $30 million going to claimants as settlement payments.

“Money seems to be the last thing that there are some people that are really you know interested in the money, but the therapeutic part and the wrap around services and the apology sometimes are more important,” Linda Hrstich Meyer, the general manager of historic claims at MSD, said.

Keith Wiffin has spent a lifetime dealing with childhood scars after being sent to Epuni Boys' Home in Lower Hutt as a ward of the state.

He later helped put a former house master behind bars for his predatory sexual offending, but it took years for the Government to acknowledge his civil claim.

“I had much anger and resentment towards the world, in general I suffered bouts of depression turned to alcohol, I'm still haunted by some of it to this day,” he said.

“I'm still extremely angry about it, it left me with a lot of despair and anxiety in my life. The claim was dismissed against a strong background of evidence against time which should have seen the original claim settled.”

“Including them knowing at the time that my principal perpetrator was not only a paedophile, but he had convictions.”

While the inquiry continues, more than 2000 claims remain unresolved with 40 new ones landing each month.