Two lawyers who have represented more than 1000 abuse survivors have told the Royal Commission no victim has ever received adequate compensation for what they suffered.
The inquiry into abuse in state and faith-based care has entered its second week of hearings in Auckland.
Law firm Cooper Legal is one of only a few involved in helping survivors of institutional care to take civil claims against the state and churches for abuse they suffered as children and vulnerable adults. The firm represents 1250 clients, aged 18 to 80 and has 1400 open files, a number now growing.
About 1100 claims have been settled with the ministries of Social Development, Health and Education, as well as faith-based institutions, with payments so-far totalling nearly $23 million.
Ms Cooper said by far the most common complaints in psychiatric hospitals were severe physical assaults at the hands of staff and other patients and sexual violation and abuse. She said complaints were not dealt with properly, which exposed vulnerable children to further abuse. She also said the culture of violence included initiation beatings, which occurred at virtually every residence in the country.
The lawyers’ said a reckoning with the truth and a commitment to both healing the past and changing the future will take more than legal action, as structural, long-term change and commitment will take many generations.