25 Oct 2020

Abuse victim rejects apology: 'I find it quite insincere'

8:28 am on 25 October 2020

A man who was abused while in state care has ridiculed apologies given to him by a Crown witness at the Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

Keith Wiffin

Keith Wiffin is calling for an independent body to look at abuse claims. Photo: Aaron Smale / @ikon_media

Keith Wiffin, who is 60, was subjected to violence and sexual abuse while at the Epuni Boys' Home in the 1970s.

The Ministry of Social Development's lead claims advisor, Garth Young, acknowledged to the Royal Commission the abuse Wiffin had suffered and said his case was the one that had troubled him the most over the years.

Wiffin finds it hard to accept the apology.

''Maybe he genuinely has a few qualms about how my case was handled and so he should, but in general I find it quite insincere.''

He said his case is not unique, as there are many other people who have been let down by the process and have suffered the same misery and despair he has.

Wiffin said he was willing to speak out and that the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) had been caught out and the comments to the commission were more of a face-saving exercise.

''The process has been a mess right from the beginning and it still is.

''I feel quite strongly that if they were able to do what they did to me then, if they were able to do it to me now, they would,'' he said.

Wiffin said it does not feel as if MSD does anything out of the generosity of its heart.

''The only reason this may have changed a bit, although that is debatable whether it has or not, is pressure brought to bear.''

He is demanding the immediate setting up of an independent body to deal with claims from people who have been abused in state and faith-based care.

Wiffin said that until an organisation is formed, survivors won't get the help they deserve.

He said it must be independent of any government department or agency that was responsible for the abuse in the first place.

Wiffin said the new entity should have objectivity, impartiality and fairness which the current claims process has never had.

He hopes the Royal Commission will recommend the setting up of an independent body in its interim report.

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