‘We have to do this’, Government’s commitment for independent inquiry into sexual abuse in state care reaffirmed

The government has reaffirmed its commitment to an independent inquiry into the sexual abuse of those in state care.

The news comes as survivors of abuse call for an investigation similar to Australia’s Royal Commission.

“It’s a very difficult thing to face, it’s a painful moment in a country’s history to acknowledge those past injustices,” Patrick O’Leary from the Australian Royal Commission said.

Judge Carolyn Henwood, heard from over 1000 New Zealand victims in her seven years on the confidential listening service.

“We need something independent because we haven’t yet got accountability and we haven’t got a pathway forward for the future as to how we’re going to give an access to justice,” she said.

A straight forward message coming from abuse survivor Jim Goodwin.

“We have to do this, as a country we have to do this.”

This article on TVNZ here >>

Conference Resolution Requesting Royal Commission

Update 21 December

MSSAT Aotearoa endorses a submission from the Network of Survivors of Faith-based Institutional Abuse and their Supporters for the extension of a public enquiry into the abuse of children in state care to include all faith-based institutions. The submission presents the rationale for the extension of the enquiry and and the risks of not doing so.

You can download the submission here >>


Update: 3 December 2017

PM confirms inquiry into state care abuse will be independent

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed an inquiry into abuse suffered in state care will be independent.

 She told TV3’s programme The Hui this morning the stories she’s heard have truly shocked her.

“There is no independent way to complain about what happens to you in our system and that is unacceptable, when you have powers like that held by the state – there has to be an independent complaints process.

“I want to know more, we are going into this with an open heart and with a chance to do things differently and that’s what I want to come out of this,” Ms Ardern said.

Read the full story here >>


The attendees at the 2017 International Conference of the South South Institute, Christchurch, New Zealand, 5-10 November 2017, have passed the following resolution and ask that it be presented to the Prime Minister of New Zealand by Phillip Chapman (Chair) and Ken Clearwater (National Advocate) for the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, Aotearoa New Zealand (MSSAT Aotearoa) who are hosting this conference.

Download the Resolution here >>

View the Resolution below:


Abuse victims demand Royal Commission

A Dunedin survivor of sexual abuse says he and others like him are ready for a long fight for justice.

A resolution was passed in Christchurch yesterday at the South-South Institute conference, which is organised by the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, asking the Government to commit to a Royal Commission or similar level of inquiry into the institutional abuse of children in New Zealand.

The resolution asks that any New Zealand inquiry be modelled on the Australian Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Full article on the Otago Daily Times here >>

Renewed calls for Royal Commission into abuse of people in state care

Government departments could be “sheltering” child abuse perpetrators as calls for a Royal Commission into historical state care abuse remain unanswered, a judge says.

On Wednesday, experts outlined what they believe an independent inquiry into child abuse in state care before 1992 should look like.

The new Government promised an inquiry in its 100-day plan, but what shape that will take remains to be seen.

Full article on Stuff.nz here >>

Abused males want royal commission

A Dunedin man is one of more than 100 male sexual abuse survivors calling on the Government to open a royal commission into the historical sexual abuse of children.

The South-South Institute’s the third conference, organised by the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust Aotearoa, is running in Christchurch this week.

Dunedin man and sexual abuse survivor Darryl Smith is one of about 100 sexual abuse survivors attending the conference who support a royal commission into historic sexual abuse.

Mr Smith spent more than a decade in state care, in both New Zealand and Australia, beginning when he was 7 in the early 1970s.

It is likely a call for the Government to open a royal commission into historical sexual abuse cases, both in state care and other institutions, will be made during the conference.

Mr Smith said he and fellow survivors had already made their views clear at a survivor-only day on Sunday.

“As survivors we were asked what we wanted as an outcome and we were all on the same page that we wanted a royal commission, so people can be made accountable.”

The Labour Party has pledged to set up an inquiry into abuse of children in state care within its first 100 days in government.

Read the full article on the Otago Daily Times here >>

Former FBI agent and Criminal Minds writer speaking at Christchurch sexual abuse conference

A retired FBI agent who advises and writes for American TV programmes including Criminal Minds is to speak in Christchurch next month.

Jim Clemente, a globally recognised expert in sex crimes, child sexual victimisation and child abduction/homicide, is one of about 30 speakers from New Zealand and around the world who will talk at a conference organised by the Christchurch-based Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust Aotearoa.

The conference, which will run from November 5-10, will be the third gathering of the South-South Institute – an international partnership involving the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust Aotearoa and the Refugee Law Project, Men of Peace and Men of Hope organisations in Uganda; and the First Step organisation in Cambodia.

Read the full article on the NZHerald here >>

FBI agent fights for sexually abused kids

A retired FBI agent has dedicated his career fighting for children who have been sexually abused, and sadly he knows all too well what they’re going through.

Jim Clemente, a former New York City prosecutor, is in Christchurch to share his story on sexual abuse, and his experience which led him to get justice for others.

He is a guest speaker at the South-South Institute’s Building Bridges International Conference about male survivors of sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse statistics in New Zealand say that one in three girls will be abused, and one in seven boys, but unfortunately Mr Clemente knows that’s not the true number.

Read the full article here >>

Male sexual abuse survivors conference to ‘take lid off can of worms and throw it away’

When Ken Clearwater was admitted to a psychiatric emergency ward after threatening to kill a man over a game of pool, he knew he needed help to deal with a secret he’d been carrying for decades.

He had been raped as a child.

Clearwater, 38 years old at the time of the outburst, had spiralled into a deep depression fuelled by drugs, alcohol, gangs and a whole lot of violence.

“Drugs and alcohol is a survival mechanism, it helps to numb the brain so we don’t have to deal with stuff going round and round in our heads,” he says.

“As males, we’re supposed to be staunch and tough. We’re not allowed to talk about things, share our feelings or else it’s seen as weak.”

Read the full article on the NZ Herald here >>

The Bristlecone Project expected to help survivors come forward

An installation telling the stories of male survivors of sexual abuse is expected to help other men open up about their own trauma.

The Bristlecone Project exhibition, featuring black-and-white photographs of 24 New Zealand men abused in childhood, opens at Canterbury Museum on Monday.

“People have been trying to hide this for so long, and now it’s going to be in the public’s face,” said Ken Clearwater, manager of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust.

“We’re taking the lid off a can of worms and throwing the lid away. We’ve been carrying this shame and guilt for so long, it’s time people understand the damage it does.”

Read the full article on stuff.co.nz here >>

New figures on sexual abuse prompt renewed calls for inquiry

A group working with men who have been sexually abused says any inquiry into abuse needs to go beyond just that in boys’ homes.  

ACC says between 2012 and 2016 there was an almost 90 per cent increase in new sensitive claims lodged for male victims of sexual abuse.

The Labour party has pledged to set up an inquiry into abuse of children in state care within its first 100 days in government. 

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Trauma Trust manager Ken Clearwater welcomed the move, but told Nine to Noon‘s Kathryn Ryan it needed to cover every institution in the country. 

Listen / Read to the full article on Radio New Zealand here >>