16 Jan 2018

PM on abuse inquiry: 'We need to be open about our mistakes'

12:25 pm on 16 January 2018

Despite calls to broaden the government's inquiry into abuse of children in state care, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the focus should stay on the role that the state played.

The Labour-led government has promised to set up an inquiry, but groups of survivors want its scope broadened to cover places like religious institutions and sports clubs.

The wide-ranging inquiry into child abuse held in Australia recently did cover these aspects and found the majority of children sexually assaulted were abused in faith-based institutions.

Speaking to Summer Report in her first live interview with RNZ this year, Ms Ardern said New Zealand's inquiry would still be broad, pointing out that the state's reach in this country often went beyond state institutions, and the inquiry would look at the full process.

But she said the primary role of the inquiry was to look at the state's responsibility, which had not happened before.

"As a starting point for the state, if we are ever going to learn from our mistakes, we need to be open about those that have been made, and we haven't done that yet."

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.

But Bill Kilgallon, who is in charge of handling the complaints for the Catholic Church in New Zealand, said he was disappointed the inquiry would not cover religious institutions.

He said there were a lot of benefits to having a wide-ranging investigation covering many groups.

"You find some issues in common, some issues that are different, and you get a much better picture of what we need to do to prevent abuse happening in the future."

Mr Kilgallon said expanding the scope of the inquiry would also encourage more people who were abused to come forward.

Watch the live video here: