'Should have done it sooner': Survivor on abuse inquiry

Darryl Smith. Photo: ODT
Darryl Smith was abused by members of the same Catholic order, the Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God, while enduring more than a decade of torment in state care in New Zealand and Australia, beginning in the late 1970s. Photo: ODT

A Dunedin survivor is welcoming the news faith-based institutions will be included in an expanded Royal Commission of Inquiry into historic abuse.

Darryl Smith was abused by members of the same Catholic order, the Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God, while enduring more than a decade of torment in state care in New Zealand and Australia, beginning in the late 1970s.

This afternoon, after hearing New Zealand's Royal Commission would children in the care of faith-based institutions, his reaction was swift: "About time.''
"They should have done it sooner - right from the word go,'' he told ODT Insight.

But, with the exact terms of reference yet to be released, questions remain over what - exactly - would be included or excluded from the inquiry.

It is not yet clear whether, for example, the actions of Fr Magnus Murray, the Dunedin priest convicted of crimes against four boys, but who left a trail of other victims in his wake, would be covered.

Mr Smith said if the expanded inquiry did not already include the actions of such men, it should.

"They have to investigate everything.

"It's all connected, whether it's done at home by a priest - a priest is still employed by the local diocese, so it's still an institutional base. It should still be covered.''

Despite the uncertainty, Mr Smith said he would be telling his story as part of the inquiry.

"It's made me feel a lot happier, that I can actually talk about the church as well as the state. I can talk about both now.''

His comments came after the cabinet decision to expand the scope of the inquiry was announced at 3pm today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.

based institutions, and to learn the lessons for the future,'' Ms Ardern said.

"It was critical we got the Royal Commission right and the scope and purpose of this Inquiry has been carefully considered.''

Ms Martin said the debate over whether to include faith-based institutions was "one of the most strongly argued issues'' in consultation on the draft terms of reference, which had attracted more than 400 submissions.

However, the Government remained committed to fulfilling the expectations of those who sought an inquiry into state care, despite the decision to expand the scope.

As a result, the inquiry's first interim report - expected by the end of 2020 - would focus on state care, while the abuse of children in faith-based institutions would 

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.
Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.

be the subject of a separate report.

"We recognise the seriousness of abuse and confirm our commitment to considering future measures to help protect all children, young people, and vulnerable adults,'' Ms Martin said.

Today's announcement also followed months of revelations by ODT Insight, which has been detailing the extent of sexual abuse by clergy within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin.

Victims, their supporters and even the Bishop of Dunedin, Michael Dooley, have been calling for the terms of reference to be expanded, arguing the exclusion of churches would overlook many victims of abuse.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ

Ms Martin said the inquiry would hear from victims and survivors through a combination of confidential listening sessions, formal hearings and engagement in other settings.

The $78.85 million budget included more than $15 million to help participants by providing counselling and other forms of support.

The Historic Claims Unit, which processes compensation claims, has been asked to cooperate with, and support any requests made by, the Commission.

The Inquiry would begin hearing evidence in January 2019. A final report containing the Royal Commission's findings and recommendations would be submitted to the Governor-General in January 2023.

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Tone Miller, Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Dunedin/Invercargill: 0211987878.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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