More Than 300 File Abuse Complaints Against Former
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 15, 2004
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--More than 300 people have come forward to state that they were mistreated while housed at New Zealand mental institutions during the 1960s and 70s.
Of those, at least 200 have filed claims alleging that while they were at Porirua Hospital they were beaten, sexually assaulted, over-medicated, unwillingly subjected to experiments in electro-convulsive treatments, and placed in isolation for long periods of time -- sometimes for months.
In recent weeks, many of those allegations have been confirmed by former staff members.
One former social worker told the Dominion Post this week that she resigned from Porirua in 1964 after telling officials she was concerned that a 12-year-old boy was being kept in an adult ward where another patient was sexually abusing him.
"They (the doctors) never bothered to speak to patients and find out what was troubling them or why they were there. They were just treated like nonentities," said Eva Naylor. "We came across patients who were just kept there, locked away."
So far, 65 legal claims have been filed in the High Court, each asking for as much as $500,000 in compensation and up to $50,000 in exemplary damages. Another 40 cases are close to being filed, according to Sonja Cooper, an attorney representing many of the former residents.
Attorney-General Margaret Wilson said that extra staff were being hired to assist in investigating the claims. She said that the courts will then decide if the government is legally liable.
Until recently officials had believed the abuses were confined to Porirua and one other former institution. As more claimants came forward in the past few months, nearly all of the country's psychiatric hospitals had been implicated.
Most of the facilities either are closed or no longer operate as mental institutions.
"Abuse claims by patients reach 300" (Dominion Post via Stuff.com)
"Culture Of Abuse At Former New Zealand Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)