Priest’s sexual abuse at Upper Hutt school admitted: It’s ‘criminal’

The Marist Fathers has admitted a priest who led one of its top secondary schools sexually abused children.

But decades on they will not release the file on Francis Durning, rector of St Patrick’s College in Silverstream, Upper Hutt, in the 1950s.

He was publicly remembered in Catholic obituaries as a man of “profound integrity” but a victim said other clergy nicknamed him “Fred the Fiddler” for his habit of abusing boys.

Published in Radio New Zealand

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Call for Catholic Church to release file it has on priest who sexually abused boys

A Christchurch man wants the Catholic Church to release information he says it has about a priest who sexually abused him as a 12-year-old.

George Russell said he was an alter boy in Temuka when he was abused by Father Cornelius O’Brien in 1972.

He has avoided churches ever since.

Russell said he knows the Catholic Church has a dossier on O’Brien, who has since returned to the UK and died.

Published in Stuff

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‘The Church should open up their books’ – abuse survivor

Documents show the Catholic church publicly thanked a priest for his service, despite knowing he was a serial predator of young boys. A church investigator’s report from 2017 says Father Cornelius O’Brien committed a litany of offending in various parishes in Canterbury in the 1960s and 1970s. One of his victims is Christchurch chef George Russell, who is demanding the church open its books on the priest, so his other victims can seek help. O’Brien, who died in 2012, was convicted of indecency with a boy in Christchurch in 1976. In 2007, a church newsletter included O’Brien’s name in a list of priests it said had “gloriously blessed” the diocese by leaving their ‘native lands’ to serve in New Zealand. George Russell told RNZ reporter Phil Pennington in 1972 when he was 12 he was forced to perform a sexual act on O’Brien in the presbytery.

Listen to the news story

By the Morning Report
Published by Radio New Zealand
17 September 2018

Priest carried out ‘litany of offending against young boys’ – report

Two Canterbury men are accusing the Catholic church of enabling a priest to carry out a string of child sex attacks in multiple South Island parishes.

Documents show the church knew Father Cornelius O’Brien was a serial predator when, in 2007, it thanked him publicly for his service. See ‘Priests from Ireland’ on page eight of the Catholic Bishop of Christchurch’s June 2007 newsletter Inform.

Published by Radio New Zealand

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Cabinet yet to hear abuse inquiry proposal

Slow progress in establishing the ground rules for New Zealand’s biggest ever inquiry is causing further pain for state care abuse survivors. New information also shows a formal proposal on the inquiry is yet to reach Cabinet – which must approve the final inquiry scope before anyone can be heard. Teuila Fuatai reports.

Published in Newsroom

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Scale of abuse, suffering revealed

The only staff member not to be named as a perpetrator in this school in Dunedin at this time is the head master and the brother currently under investigation by the police. These survivors are not included in the proposed Royal Commission. They have nowhere to seek justice but the media. More have come forward to other news media and will be released next week. We are grateful to Chris Morris and other journalists for their efforts in the hope it will persuade the government that All survivors in “out of home” care must be included in the RoyCom and all institutions who cared for them investigated.

Published in the Otago Daily Times

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Catholic church knew of abuse claims against paedophile priest Michael Shirres for 28 years

The Catholic Church was aware of sex abuse accusations against paedophile priest Father Michael Shirres nearly three decades before he was finally withdrawn from public ministry.

Another victim of the disgraced Dominican theologian has come forward to say Shirres abused her and her sister in Auckland in 1966 and her parents reported it to a parish priest.

The Herald has confirmed that the priest then told the Dominican order’s provincial – the most senior cleric in Australasia at the time – and that Shirres was later sent away from Auckland to live at Aquinas College in Dunedin, but continued to work with families and children for decades.

Shirres was exposed in the Herald last month (July 25) as a self-confessed paedophile who had abused Whangarei woman Annie Hill, 56, from the age of five.

Published in NZ Herald

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Critics say Pope Francis needs to walk the walk after too many words on global Catholic child abuse scandal

POPE Francis’ vow to break the Catholic Church’s cover-up culture in a letter to “the people of God” after a damning American child sexual abuse report has been criticised after eight months of silence following release of the Australian child abuse royal commission final report.

Pope Francis condemned “atrocities” committed by priests against 1000 children in Pennsylvania and admitted the church abandoned “the little ones”, in a letter released on Monday after a US grand jury report revealed shocking child sexual abuse over 70 years.

Published in The Newcastle Herald

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Not ready to condemn Kavanagh

The Bishop of Dunedin is not yet ready to condemn a predecessor, but says the actions of a priest who aided a paedophile Christian Brother would ”definitely not” be appropriate today.

Bishop Michael Dooley yesterday defended former Dunedin bishop John Kavanagh, who had jurisdiction over Fr Magnus Murray and Br Desmond Fay at the time of their offending in Dunedin.

Fr Murray, who in 2003 admitted offences against four Dunedin boys dating back to 1958-72, was sent to Australia by Bishop Kavanagh for treatment after details of his offending were raised in 1972.

Published in the Otago Daily Times

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Bishop apologises to Dunedin: ‘It’s indefensible’

The Bishop of Dunedin has apologised to the city and asked for forgiveness, after admitting the Catholic Church failed to protect children from paedophiles disguised as men of the cloth.

And, as more victims continue to come forward, he has also added his voice to growing calls for churches to be included in the Government’s upcoming Royal Commission into historic abuse.

The comments by Bishop Michael Dooley came during a wide-ranging interview, days after ODT Insight revealed more historic offending by Fr Magnus Murray and two Christian Brothers in Dunedin.

Published in the Otago Daily Times

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For Catholics, Gradual Reform Is No Longer an Option

Yes, there is still holiness in the church. But the sin is so pervasive and corrosive that it is irresponsible to talk about anything else.

I often use a handy metaphor to explain to my students how feminists have historically differed among themselves in their approaches to bringing about change in patriarchal institutions. Some feminists seek a place at the table; others want to reset the table. The former hope to promote gradual progress from within an existing framework of norms and organizational structures; the latter demand nothing less than radical, wholesale reform.

Published in The New York Times

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More than 300 accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse

More than 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania sexually abused children over seven decades, protected by a hierarchy of church leaders who covered it up, according to a sweeping grand jury report released Tuesday.

The investigation, one of the broadest inquiries into church sex abuse in U.S. history, identified 1,000 children who were victims, but reported that there probably are thousands more.

Published in The Washington Post

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Catholic Church Uses 7 Step Playbook For Concealing Truth About Predatory Priests

New grand jury report reveals the Catholic Church has a seven step playbook they use to conceal the truth about priests raping children.

It is now common knowledge that the Catholic Church has been protecting and enabling predatory priests for decades if not centuries. In so doing the Catholic Church is responsible for the rape and sexually abuse of countless children.

But now a new grand jury report released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court explains the policy and procedures the Catholic Church uses to cover-up, deny, and obfuscate the epidemic of sexual abuse and rape of children by Catholic clergy.

Published in

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Children’s Minister ‘alarmed’ at numbers of proven child abuse

More than 10,000 Kiwi children were recorded as being abused last year – something the Children’s Commissioner has labelled New Zealand’s “enduring shame”.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show that between its creation in April 2017 and March 2018, Oranga Tamariki recorded 13,966 substantive findings of abuse.

Those numbers were made up of 11,519 individual children – with some young people having more than one incident of proven abuse against them.

Published in Stuff

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Catholic Church in NZ ‘failed in a very serious way’ over paedophile priest: call for royal commission

The Catholic Church’s handling of a paedophile priest from Dunedin amounts to “negligence”, and a royal commission could reveal a cover-up, the head of the University of Otago’s theology and public issues centre says.

And an international expert on clerical sex abuse now believes Father Magnus Murray may have been offending for 50 years, and “almost certainly has dozens of victims”.

The comments came after ODT Insight yesterday revealed how Murray was allowed to continue as a priest after his offending in Dunedin was revealed to Bishop John Kavanagh in 1972.

Murray – who was convicted in 2003 of offences against four Dunedin boys between 1958 and 1972 – was sent to Sydney for counselling when two Dunedin parents complained in 1972.

Published in the NZ Herald

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Call to defrock accused priest

The Catholic priest now accused of leaving more victims in his wake should be defrocked, even now, a theological lecturer says.

Dr Rocio Figueroa, from Good Shepherd Theological College, said the response to clerical child abuse now needed to be “centred on the victims, not covering up the perpetrators or trying to protect the institution”.

Published in Otago Daily Times

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Press Release – Male Survivors Aotearoa publish new Quality Standards

PRESS RELEASE 23.07.2018

Male Survivors Aotearoa publish new Quality Standards for organisations providing support services for male survivors of sexual violence

“These quality standards are designed to help organisations assure the quality of all support services (clinical and non-clinical) they offer to male survivors of sexual abuse and to recognise that the provision of those services will be most effective when they take account of the male-specific responses to trauma resulting from sexual violence’ says Philip Chapman, the Chair of Male Survivors Aotearoa.

“The standards are intended to encourage all service providers to pay special attention to the needs of their male clients. We know that male survivors often respond differently to female victims of sexual violence in the way they engage with support services. If we are to encourage men to come forward and seek help we must ensure that we offer services that give them confidence that their particular needs will be properly considered.”

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Social Development ministry gave historic abuse complaint statements to police

Deeply personal and traumatic accounts of historic abuse in state care were given to police without the knowledge of those concerned.

A judge has said the abuse claimants were “some of the most vulnerable people in New Zealand society” and distrusted state agencies.

She made an order to stop the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) passing on information, provided for court proceedings, without the claimant’s consent.

Published in Stuff

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New Zealand tells country’s sex abuse commission to include Church institutions

Just months after the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse issued its final report, New Zealand is beginning its own royal commission – and the nation’s Catholic bishops are asking its institutions not to be excluded from scrutiny.

A royal commission is the highest form of inquiry in most countries where Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, including Australia and New Zealand.

Right now, the New Zealand royal commission will look into youth detention centers, psychiatric hospitals and orphanages, as well as any government care services contracted out to private institutions.

Published in the Crux.

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Calls for abuse inquiry to include faith-based

A Royal Commission on historic abuse in state care will “fail” survivors – including those still suffering in Otago – unless faith-based institutions are included, a campaigner says.

The call came from Liz Tonks, the head of a support network for survivors of abuse in faith-based institutions, as consultation on the draft terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Abuse in State Care entered its final week.

But Ms Tonks, who met Royal Commission chairman Sir Anand Satyanand yesterday to discuss her submission, said there was no sign of a “significant” change in the scope of the inquiry.

Published in the Otago Daily Times

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Research results support the need to consider men and women as both potential victims and perpetrators when approaching IPV

Published in the International Journal of Public Health here >>


We aimed to assess intimate partner violence (IPV) among men and women from six cities in six European countries. Four IPV types were measured in a population-based multicentre study of adults (18-64 years; n = 3,496). Sex- and city-differences in past year prevalence were examined considering victims, perpetrators or both and considering violent acts’ severity and repetition. Male victimization of psychological aggression ranged from 48.8 % (Porto) to 71.8 % (Athens) and female victimization from 46.4 % (Budapest) to 70.5 % (Athens).

Male and female victimization of sexual coercion ranged from 5.4 and 8.9 %, respectively, in Budapest to 27.1 and 25.3 % in Stuttgart. Male and female victims of physical assault ranged from 9.7 and 8.5 %, respectively, in Porto, to 31.2 and 23.1 % in Athens. Male victims of injury were 2.7 % in Östersund and 6.3 % in London and female victims were 1.4 % in Östersund and 8.5 % in Stuttgart. IPV differed significantly across cities (p < 0.05).

Men and women predominantly experienced IPV as both victims and perpetrators with few significant sex-differences within cities. Results support the need to consider men and women as both potential victims and perpetrators when approaching IPV.

Intimate partner violence: a study in men and women from six European countries (PDF Download Available). Available from: [accessed Mar 06 2018].

Australian abuse survivors criticise NZ inquiry

From Radio NZ here >>

New Zealand’s plan to leave the Church and other non-state groups out of the Royal Commission of inquiry into abuse is getting some bad press in Australia today.

The Newcastle Herald has gone big with a story of Australian survivors of abuse afraid their New Zealand counterparts won’t get justice.

Joanne McCarthy, the journalist who did in Australia what the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team did in the US to break open the clerical sex abuse scandal, has interviewed them.

The approach being taken here was “completely unacceptable”, she said.

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Australia: One in Three In-depth Analysis – responds to latest attack upon male victims by Daily Life

(This article originally appeared here >>)

On January 25th, Fairfax blog Daily Life published an article by Jane Gilmore titled Fact or fiction: Every third victim of intimate partner violence is a male. The article was the latest in a series of attacks upon male victims of domestic violence by the publication.

This is the One in Three Campaign’s in-depth response (a short version is here).

Men’s Rights Activists or advocates for male victims?

Ms Gilmore starts by referring to the One in Three Campaign as “A Men’s Rights Activist website,” in what appears to be an attempt to smear the name of the Campaign within certain circles where the term “MRA” is used pejoratively.

If you check the Internet Archive of our website you will find we have never used this term as we don’t identify as MRAs. As our front page states,

One in Three is a diverse group of male and female professionals – academics, researchers, social workers, psychologists, counsellors, lawyers, health promotion workers, trainers and survivor/advocates. The Campaign aims to raise public awareness of the existence and needs of male victims of family violence and abuse; to work with government and non-government services alike to provide assistance to everyone affected by family violence; and to reduce the incidence and impacts of family violence on Australian men, women and children.

Attacks upon ABS data

Gilmore goes on to claim that our presentation of verified data from such organisations as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) is “straight up wrong,” “misinformation” and “baseless myths”.

The author analyses in detail the verified ABS statistic on our infographic that “the proportion of men experiencing current partner violence between 2005 and 2016, rose more than fivefold, a 552 per cent increase”.

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The Press Editorial – Government’s proposed abuse inquiry doesn’t go far enough

From an original article here on >>

It is disappointing that a government inquiry into past abuse of children will be limited to those cases which originated in state care. An opportunity to address systemic abuse in non-government institutions, and particularly religious organisations, is likely to be lost.

The inquiry is one of the Government’s pledges for its first 100 days in office and will be announced shortly. However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already said that inquiries will begin with “the harm that we (the State) had direct responsibility for”.

Victims’ groups have called on the Government to follow Australia’s example and include non-governmental organisations such as churches, charities, community groups and sports clubs in the inquiry. For now, at least, the Government appears to be ruling this out.

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Gordon Campbell on the inquiry into the abuse of children in care

By Gordon Campbell, from an original article here on >>

Apparently, PM Jacinda Ardern has chosen to exclude faith-based institutions from the government’s promised inquiry into the abuse of children in state care. Any role for religious institutions – eg the Catholic Church – would be only to observe and to learn from any revelations that arise from the inquiry’s self-limiting focus on state-run institutions:

[Ardern] said the primary role of the inquiry was to look at the state’s responsibility….She said any religious institution with concerns needed to look at the issue, ask what they have done about the issues and their own history.

Such a narrowing of focus would be unfortunate, for a whole variety of reasons, and not merely because a more wide-ranging commission of inquiry in Australia found a high prevalence of children in care being sexually assaulted within religious institutions.

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Australia: One in Three Media Release: domestic violence – the facts our media won’t tell you

One in Three, based in Australia is a diverse group of male and female professionals – academics, researchers, social workers, psychologists, counsellors, lawyers, health promotion workers, trainers and survivor/advocates.

They issued a press release on the 16th January 2018 on domestic violence. You can read this below. Visit their website here:


‘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:

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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 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 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 >>


Australia: One in Three Campaign supplementary submission to Federal Parliamentary Inquiry published

(This article originally appeared here >>)

One in Three appeared on the 5th of September 2017 before the Canberra Hearing of the Federal Inquiry into a better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence.

On 6th October 2017, we lodged a supplementary submission and answers to questions on notice, which includes in-depth case studies of two male victims of family violence, along with addidional data that dispels some of the dangerous myths about male victims.

The Inquiry has now published our supplementary submission on its website.

You can also download a copy of the supplementary submission from here (our original submission can be found here, and the transcript of our appearance at the Canberra Hearing can be found here).

You will notice that sections of the case studies have been redacted by the Inquiry for reasons of anonymity.

From the Chairman’s desk, August 2017

Kia ora

Welcome to the new web presence of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust Aotearoa NZ (MSSAT Aotearoa).

MSSAT Aotearoa has now been in existence for three years. With the overall aim of ensuring survivors experience safety and respect throughout their journey, MSSAT Aotearoa has made considerable progress. What has been achieved during this relatively short time is commendable and includes:

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