Complaints of abuse at health camp

Roxburgh Health Camp. Photo: file
Roxburgh Health Camp. Photo: file
The number of complaints alleging historic abuse at the former Roxburgh Health Camp and School is growing, but the organisation now in charge says it has already turned a corner.

Cooper Legal, the Wellington law firm specialising in cases of institutional abuse, said 10 current and former clients had made claims of mistreatment relating to their time as children at the camp, school or both.

The allegations include physical, emotional and sexual abuse dating from the 1950s to the 1990s, before the health camps passed to a new organisation, Stand Children's Services, in 2000.

Five of Cooper Legal's clients with claims relating to the former school had already been referred to the Ministry of Education, resulting in two settlements so far.

The rest were yet to be progressed by Cooper Legal, including two complaints about the school and one alleging mistreatment at both the school and camp.

Stand chief executive Fiona Inkpen said it had fielded 27 complaints, including nine alleging sexual abuse, relating to health camps across the country in recent years.

They included complaints about Roxburgh's camp and school, where ''there appears to be a period ... where sexual and physical abuse reports [were raised]''.

''Other issues raised seem to relate to questions about practices that were considered acceptable then but would not be today, and rightly so.''

Stand aimed to ''break the cycle'' and help children recover from trauma, so was ''rigorous'' in ensuring historic abuse did not continue, she said.

Historic complaints about the Roxburgh school were referred to the ministry, and Ms Inkpen also met complainants directly - if they wished - to hear their stories and offer help, including counselling.

''If there are any historic complaints out there I do not know about, I would like to hear from those people.

''I would like to be able to apologise and to help,'' she said.

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