Congratulations to Race Relations commissioner Dame Susan Devoy for her courageous stand challenging the Government to hold an independent inquiry into the abuse of children held in care by the state.
Devoy brings up the controversial issue of institutional racism and is adamant that this is an example of this and she is correct.
In 1985 Maori boys made up 78 percent of all youngsters held in six social welfare homes across Auckland and it is believed many gangs track their origins back to these homes. Devoy says her suspicion is that Maori were always more likely to be put in these homes which is clearly borne out by the numbers.
Maori have only been between 10 and 15 percent of the population over the last 40 years yet over half the 100,000 kids put in state homes are Maori and in 2017 we are 50 percent of the prison population. Now surely that can’t be because we have some sort of criminal gene in our DNA, there must be another explanation and an independent inquiry will help with providing answers.
Her pinpointing the injustices to Maori has copped her a lot of flak but she is only spelling out the facts and the truth regarding Maori, the state and the justice system. She is not saying that just Maori should receive an apology but any person who was abused. However she has taken the opportunity to also point out the systemic prejudice against Maori. Sadly though the government are ignoring her call.
The idea that we are going to sweep under the carpet abuse of Maori, Pasifika, European, migrant, Pakeha and Asian boys and girls by the state is an abomination that no decent Kiwi should stand for.
The Government has dismissed the call by the Human Rights Commission to hold an independent inquiry. This is unacceptable. We know that there has been extreme abuse within state institutions, what we don’t know was how widespread it was. To deny an independent inquiry will let down every one of those boys and girls plus their whanau from ever seeing justice or compensation.
We pay prisoners compensation when the prisons abuse them, why wouldn’t we pay compensation to children who were abused by state institutions that should have known better? Let’s not be conned into believing this was abuse caused in the distant mists of time, the latest case in front of the courts occurred in the 1990s
I want to see an independent inquiry, with abuse identified and a special panel consisting of some survivors of that abuse to decide compensation while we also review CYFS right now to ensure this damage is not occurring today.
We have to stand up for the kids who were abused while under the care of the state, because no one else will stand up for them.Good on Devoy for taking on institutional racism.
First published in Manukau Courier