State abuse survivor: 'We finally have a Government willing to do what's right'

State abuse survivor: 'We finally have a Government willing to do what's right'
Photo credit: Getty.

Keith Wiffin was ten years old when he suffered months of physical, psychological and sexual abuse while in state care at Epuni Boys Home in Lower Hutt.

Mr Wiffin was one of thousands of children taken from their homes between 1950 and 1990 and put into state-run facilities. Hundreds of stories of abuse have since surfaced from many of these institutions.

After decades of dealing with residual trauma, the 58 year old is a vocal proponent of holding the state to account for the abuse suffered by New Zealand's most vulnerable.

In February, Labour announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

Mr Wiffin told Newshub Nation in his own words what that means to him.

OPINION: On February 1, the Labour Government announced there would be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical state abuse.

This was a very big day for all of us who have suffered in so-called state care. To this day that abuse impacts thousands of New Zealanders.

Now we finally have a Government that wants to do the right thing and personally, I can't thank them enough.

Up until this point what we've had is decades of resistance from governments and their agencies.

Hopefully the inquiry will expose some of the things these agencies have stooped to while trying to minimise and kill the whole thing off - wasting millions of dollars of taxpayers in the process.

I think they have chosen a good person to head the inquiry. I'm confident there will be genuine consultation around the framing of the terms of reference, which to me is crucial.

I also hope there will be thorough examination of how was this allowed to happen on the scale it did.

My hope is that the inquiry gives all those who want to have a say the opportunity to do so, in a setting they feel comfortable and respected in.

My hope is that it explains to the nation the scale of abuse,and the impact it has had on the country.

Lastly, I hope it forces a cultural change in those Government agencies - in particular the Ministry of Social Development - so that those people in care today can have a chance of a decent life.

Keith Wiffin lives in Wellington, and currently works as a cleaning contractor.

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