15 Nov 2020

Abuse survivor pleads with public to wake up to child abuse

11:50 am on 15 November 2020

A man who was in both faith-based and state care wants the public to wake up to historical abuse and be concerned that it could still be happening.

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Photo: RNZ

Darryl Smith, 57, first went into care at the age of seven at Marylands School in Christchurch, which was run by the Catholic St John of God order.

He later went into state care.

Smith said countries are judged on how well they treat their children and New Zealand fails in this.

'' I believe it is up to a village to raise a child and if you see something going wrong with a child, you are supposed to go, 'what is wrong?'

''You are supposed to protect a child, not go, I'm not Catholic and it's not my problem or I wasn't in state care, so not my problem. That's the attitude in this country and it needs to change.

''The minute you say it's not your problem, you are the problem,'' he said.

Smith is challenging the prime minister to clean out Oranga Tamariki, The Ministry for Children.

''She needs to use the power in her little finger to dismiss the chief executive and get rid of Oranga Tamariki and return it back to Child, Youth and Family.''

No trust in system

He wants a lot of the staff at Oranga Tamariki to go as well.

''We need to put survivors into jobs like this, trained survivors in jobs like this to work with this because we don't trust the system, none of us do.''

Smith said survivors do not just want lip-service.

''I don't want lip-service from the New Zealand government or from the churches or clubs in this country. I want them to start doing it. Now is the time.''

Smith said that all victims of abuse in care need a direct apology and compensation that truly reflects what happened to them.

''Compensation that they have already had is a laughing joke.''

He supports the call from a number of other survivors for the establishment of an independent body to deal with issues of abuse in care and to determine compensation.

''It can't be run by the Catholic Church or the government.

''Half of them have to be at least survivors on the panel, otherwise, it is just a waste of time.''

Smith is publishing a second book in December about his experiences in care.

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