Internal Affairs Launch Confidential Listening and Assistance Service

The Department of Internal Affairs has launched the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service for people who have been subject to abuse or neglect whilst in state care prior to 1992.

The service is intended to provide assistance for people and a forum for their experiences. This service has grown out of the Confidential Forum for Former In-Patients of Psychiatric Hospitals established in 2004 which provided the opportunity for former patients to share their experiences. Following the success of these forums, the government has extended the confidential listening and assistance service to all of those in state care in psychiatric hospitals and wards, health camps, child welfare care and special education homes prior to 1992.

People can talk to a panel of three appointed members, chaired by Judge Carolyn Henwood they have concerns about abuse, neglect or the way you were treated in State care before 1992. The panels job is to listen, and where appropriate, to assist you to get further help.

People who might want to talk with the panel include those who lived in:

• Psychiatric Hospitals and wards
• Health Camps
• Child Welfare
• Special Education Homes

The service was established in late 2008 and is expected to run for five years.

Meetings will be comfortable and confidential. Participants can bring support people, but not lawyers. If participants choose, the meeting can be recorded, and a copy provided. The panel will not criticise, or judge those it hears, and will be receptive and constructive.

The panel will listen and suggest ways of getting help, but it will not decide the truth of what it hears, or acknowledge liability for what happened, or try to resolve differences. The panel cannot pay compensation.
Talking with the panel will provide an opportunity for you to talk about past concerns and help identify your current needs for support and assistance. It may be difficult for you to talk about your past experiences. Where needed, counselling will be available for those who take part in the meetings.

If you come to talk to us, or ask about the Service you will be treated with respect.
We are happy to explain in detail about what happens at the panel forum so you can decide if taking part is a good idea for you. No one has to attend.

Further information including a full terms of reference for the group is available at: www.listening.govt.nz or call 0800 356 567 or via written correspondence to PO Box 5939, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145

Published on Thursday, February 25th, 2010, under Announcements, Learning & development

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