19 Jul 2018

Organisation backs compo for NZers abused in Aus state care

6:47 pm on 19 July 2018

A support organisation for victims of child sex abuse in state care says the Australian government has a duty of care and should pay compensation to victims, regardless of their citizenship status.

The campaign wants state care to be available to young people until they are 21-years-old.

Photo: 123RF

Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) chief executive Leonie Sheedy's comments come after RNZ revealed a New Zealander was abused in state care in Australia but was unable to get up to $150,000 in compensation after being deported.

The man, who RNZ is identifying as John, was put into an Australian state care facility at 11, and was legally made a ward of the state two years later.

John said one warder stands out in John's memory. Initially the warder was kind, handing out cigarettes and coffee to the boys.

"It used to be the cigarettes and the coffee and treating you how you want to be treated, feeling respected and liked - they made you feel like that. And then the next minute, they're threatening you or doing things to you."

The sexual abuse happened in the laundry room in the basement, a room the boys referred to as 'the dungeon'.

"There were times where I know that the tea or coffee or whatever he was bringing around was drugged because there would be times we'd go to sleep and then - bang - we'd wake up groggy and not remembering anything and then hearing from one of the other boys what had happened to them - it was nasty."

Later in life John turned to drugs and was arrested for cooking methamphetamine. He was jailed for three years before being sent to a detention centre for a further 16 months.

John said there were others in his situation.

"Between all of us there was probably four Kiwis, five Kiwi boys there. [It was the] same story, and we used to say: 'Well, at least we're all going to have that, it's going to give us something to get on with in life'. But every one of them was deported, every one of them."

Ms Sheedy said the institution John was in as a child was notorious.

"Many people have come forward from that place and told horrific abuse stories to the Royal Commission."

Ms Sheedy said many people have been excluded from the compensation after leaving the country.

"Some of them, because they've chosen to leave Australia, some of them because they've been adopted by people who have moved them overseas and some of them because they have been deported to countries."

Ms Sheedy said the Australian government could not wash its hands of people just because they live in another country.

"They paid public servants to work in those orphanages, they paid money to the churches and charities to keep those establishments operating and they certainly have a duty of care to all children, regardless of where they currently reside as adults."

She said CLAN advocates for all people who were in care facilities, regardless of where they live, and is lobbying the government on the issue.

She encouraged others to get in touch.

The redress scheme is managed by the Department of Social Services.

A spokesperson said the compensation scheme was developed with input from officials and survivor advocacy groups. The legislation states a person must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident when applying for compensation.

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