Watch: Victim Support announces final mosque attacks donation

6:22 pm on 27 June 2019

Victim Support has announced it is to hand out the last $2.5 million to the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings and the families of those who lost their lives.

Tributes and flowers left outside Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch after the terror attacks.

Tributes and flowers left outside Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch after the terror attacks. Photo: RNZ / Isra'a Emhail

It comes on top of the $7m it has already distributed in three previous payments.

This time it has taken a different approach, paying slightly more to the injured depending on whether they were shot or if they sustained more minor injuries.

The bereaved - including widows with small children now having to make do without their main bread winner - have again received the most.

As with the previous payment, witnesses to the horrific events have also been paid, but much less than the bereaved or injured.

Victim Support's donated funds for the victims now totals $13.2 million, including the $10.9 million raised through the Givealittle fund, $275,000 from US crowd-funding platform Go Fund Me, and many hundreds of thousands donated by individuals, community groups, and businesses.

Victim Support said in addition to the emergency payments to victims over the last 16 weeks for victims' short-term needs, a last lump sum payment would start to be distributed to the police list victims this week, bringing the total distributed to more than $12 million.

"Victim Support received clear feedback during our engagement with victims that the bereaved and seriously injured must be prioritized in the final distribution, but that other victims present must still receive support to recognize mental trauma.

"Reflecting this feedback, this last payment will be allocated to the 296 people in the four police list categories."

Lump sum payments to be made:

  • $50,000 lump sum for next of kin deceased during the attack, bringing the total received to $90,000*
  • $26,000 lump sum to victims shot during the attack, bringing the total received to $51,000
  • $ 9000 lump sum to victims injured, but not by gunshot, during the attack, bringing the total received to $34,000
  • $5000 lump sum to victims present in the mosque at the time of the attacks, bringing the total received to $17,000

*These payments exclude the $5000 Victim Assistance Scheme grant also available to next-of-kin.

Two anonymous donors who gave $421,000 in total will also be given to the Christchurch Foundation to give severely injured victims' medium- to long-term support.

'I believe that we've got it right all along' - Victim Support head

Speaking at this afternoon's announcement, Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso said there had been extensive consultation with victims over the past weeks.

Watch chief executive Kevin Tso:

The charity had faced criticism from some victims for failing to consult with them over how the $10.7 million should be divided up, with claims not enough had been given to the severely injured or those suffering mental trauma from having witnessed the horrific shootings.

Mr Tso said they stood by their process and they have heard the voice of the victims.

He said he was confident that the 100 percent of the donated funds would go to the victims, and they would start distributing the remainder tomorrow.

Mr Tso said it took until the third tranche of money was to be distributed before it got clarity from the police about the full and complete list of all those injured and affected by the shooting.

"There's was no international framework for being able to distribute money in these sorts of circumstances.

He said Victim Support's process was "very structured because we wanted to have rationale behind our ability to distribute the monies - we just didn't make it up, it was the victims' voices."

He said the feedback they had from victims was that they thanked them for distributing the money in an open, honest and transparent way.

"I believe that we've got it right all along over the overall money distribution.

"I believe we've done the right thing, and we've done the right thing by the victims."

Victims differ on support for Victim Support's approach

One of those shot in the attack, Sheik Rubel was full of praise for the job Victim Support has done.

"I know that my life will be not the same as before ... but this money will help me for my long-term recovery."

Ahmed Jahangir, who suffered a bullet to the shoulder in the shootings, said the money would definitely help.

"This money, I don't know how long it will sustain [me]... definitely not throughout my life - but it will help."

But not everybody was happy about today's announcement.

Witnesses, many of whom are struggling to deal with the aftermath of the attacks, have again received a much smaller amount of money.

Abdul Aziz, witness of Linwood mosque shooting

Abdul Aziz, witness of Linwood mosque shooting. Photo: RNZ/ Conan Young

Abdul Aziz, who chased the alleged gunman away from the Linwood Mosque, has always said all nearly 300 victims should be paid the same, and that paying some more and some less was only dividing the community.

He said witnesses were often struggling to deal with mental trauma but this has not been recognised by Victim Support which has today only given them another $5000, on top of the $12,000 they had already received.

All eyes are now on the Christchurch Foundation to see how it will distribute the roughly $6m it has raised through the You Are Us Campaign.

Flowers and other tributes left at Hagley Park for the victims of the attacks on two Christchurch mosques.

Flowers and other tributes left for the victims of the attacks on two Christchurch mosques. Photo: RNZ / Alex Perrottet

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