Increased numbers of complaints about abuse in special schools

Media release

28 October 2020


IHC is concerned that the number of complaints about abuse in residential special schools has increased significantly in recent years, along with complaints becoming more complex.

This follows information presented by the Ministry of Education at the Royal Commission hearing into abuse in state care.

“The evidence of abuse in residential special schools now before the Commission is inarguable,” says IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant.

“New Zealand needs to learn from these tragedies and reflect on the safety of disabled students in segregated settings today in special schools and units, both residential and in local settings.”

IHC suggests, in light of this evidence, that current plans to build more special schools and units be revisited, says Trish Grant

The Ministry of Education also confirmed that people who had been abused at residential special schools had long delays in having their complaints about abuse and neglect processed.

“This is an untenable situation,” Trish Grant says.

“Disabled students need reassurances about safety and complaints mechanisms that are accessible, independent and responsive within reasonable timeframes. Justice delayed is justice denied for too many disabled children and young people today.”

IHC’s complaint about the discrimination experienced by disabled children at school is still to be heard by the Human Rights Review Tribunal five years on from the preliminary hearing.