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Improving the historic abuse claims resolution process

Supporting the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions - State Redress Hearing

The Royal Commission held its State Redress Hearing in two sessions with evidence being heard from survivors of abuse from 21 September to 6 October 2020, and witnesses for the Crown from 19 October to 3 November 2020. As part of the hearing, the Royal Commission asked us to provide a large number of supporting documents.

The Royal Commission began its Faith-Based Redress Hearing on 30 November 2020, with the first part, evidence from survivors, ending on 11 December. This hearing focuses on the redress processes of the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and the Salvation Army. The second part, which is scheduled to run from 22 March 2021 – 1 April 2021, will hear evidence from church witnesses.

Royal Commission’s Interim Report

The Royal Commission’s Interim Report, which provides a progress report on work to date, an analysis of the size of the care cohorts for State and faith-based care, and some interim findings, was released publicly on 16 December 2020.

Being more responsive to claimants

It’s important to us that claimants have full details about the claims process. We have now released the updated September 2020 MSD Historic Claims Business Process and Guidance Handbook providing more detail about the claims process. This replaces the revised version we published in July 2020. If you have any questions about your claim, please contact us on 0800 631 127

More people are bringing their claims for resolution to us. It’s a positive thing that people feel they are able to come forward.

However this does mean there are a large number of cases to work through, and it’s important that every case is treated with care. As at 2019 each claim is taking a little over four years to process, and this unlikely to change quickly.

To improve how we work with claimants we have been working to review the existing system. We have also consulted with past and present claimants, many of whom are Māori, and with the professionals involved in the process to understand what works and what doesn’t.

You can see the two reports from consultation at the top of the list of documents to the right, along with MSD’s response.

We have used the information we gathered to develop an improved process to meet the needs of our claimants.

Changes are being phased in over the next few years. Additional funding was provided in Budget 2019 to increase staffing and support other improvements to the process.

Meeting face to face with people to hear their accounts of the experience they had while in care and how they have been affected remains central to the claims process.

The new process

In July we released an updated MSD Historic Claims Business Process and Guidance Handbook providing more detail for claimants about the claims process which included some small changes to how we currently assess claims to introduce a higher level of investigation in a small number of circumstances. These changes relate only to allegations made after the release of the revised Handbook and will not affect the majority of people whose claims will be assessed over the next 12-18 months.

For claims being assessed over the next 12-18 months, allegations received after we’ve released the updated details of the claims process will have additional checks. These checks may include reviewing other claims about the same alleged perpetrator or the same institution; reviewing institutions’ files about residences or providers; or reviewing information held in the alleged perpetrator’s records.

Claims or allegations we received before we released the Handbook in July 2020 will continue to be assessed using our current approach.

We will stay connected with affected claimants and ensure they understand if and how this will impact the management of their claim.

Over the next 6-12 months we will be reviewing how we assess claims. We’ll take into account recommendations from the Royal Commission inquiry, keep talking with claimants, and gather feedback from other stakeholders as we consider any changes. We’re committed to making this work for claimants and will want to hear from them as changes happen.

What has already changed?

  • The assessment process has been streamlined. Where possible, we assess claims without fully investigating each concern. The new claims process looks to acknowledge claimants’ reported experience, with some allegations requiring additional checks to be completed.
  • Historic Claims has increased staffing considerably, which has included diversifying the workforce from both a cultural and skills-based perspective.
  • Historic Claims has published a new claims brochure which outlines the end-to-end process. The Historic Claims Business Process and Guidance is also available online to support greater transparency about the process

What will be different over the next few years?

  • The Historic Claims Auckland hub is now in place. This provides an additional ten Claimant Support Specialists (whose role involves engaging with claimants to understand their experience in care and support them through the claims process) and twenty additional Claims Assessors.
  • Historic Claims is investigating options for how claimants can have more choice about how they engage with us, and who they engage with.
  • Historic Claims is considering ways in which information can be shared with claimants that better meets their needs, and is developing resources to help people understand why parts of their records may be blocked out
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Documents

Feedback from Māori consultation

Report from engagement with claimants

Consultation with claimants – MSD response

Cabinet paper: Resolving Historic Claims of Abuse - Proposal to Bring Funding Forward

Report: Resolving Historic Claims of Abuse - Proposal to Bring Funding Forward

Nov 2014

Report: Historic Claims of Abuse - Completion Strategy and Funding Implications

Feb 2014

Report: Timely Resolution of All Historic Claims of Abuse by The End of 2020

Oct 2013

Social Welfare Residential Care 1950 -1994

Oct 2010

Summary of "Understanding Kohitere"

Oct 2010

John Werry Release

Oct 2010

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