13 Dec 2022

Rapid payments for abuse in care redress begin

8:57 pm on 13 December 2022
Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Abuse in care claims payments are being prioritised for survivors who are seriously unwell, over 70 years old, or have waited the longest to be considered.

The government's announcement this morning of the rapid payments system meets one of the recommendations] of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry made a year ago.

Those who suffered abuse in care had raised their frustrations again this month over the slow rollout of the rapid payments, which were intended to be an interim measure that would make the redress process less stressful.

Ministers for the Public Service and Employment Chris Hipkins and Carmel Sepuloni confirmed the first offers of these rapid payments had begun, in a written statement this morning.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has about 3000 historical claims and so far has offered money to 21 survivors, 16 of whom have accepted.

The Ministry of Education, which has about 250 claimants, is also working on a rapid payment scheme. The Ministry of Health and Oranga Tamariki do not have historical claims queues, but will monitor the situation and look at rapid payments.

Sepuloni said it was a small start but MSD had been working with claimants to ensure they got it right and she expected more offers to be made.

Questioned about the delays to getting the payments started, she said the system had been set up for some time but had been waiting on funds.

"We've had the system in place for quite some time and when we first got into government it hadn't actually had funding committed to it moving forward - so, we've certainly put the funding in.

"There is more work to be done with the survivors and that's why the royal inquiry is under way and so we await the findings of that when it's completed."

The rapid payment amounts were "roughly equivalent" to current claims settlements but would be able to be made more quickly because they required less investigation, she said.

"Rapid payments are possible because they do not require detailed individual assessments. Claimants will only have to confirm basic details, and then their files will be reviewed for key points such as their length of time in care and placements in particular programmes," she said.

"Survivors will be able to choose whether to go through a rapid payment process."

The government is working separately on a new redress system which all survivors can access, but is being designed through a process led by survivors.

Hipkins said the intention was those who had their claims resolved would still be able to seek additional redress through the new system.

Good progress was being made on a listening service and making records of survivors' time in care available to them as recommended as interim measures but the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry, alongside the rapid payments system, he said.