Four Otago men who survived sexual abuse or physical violence while in care have been included in a new Survivor Advisory Group to help guide a pending Royal Commission.

The group of 20 men and women making up the new group was unveiled yesterday, representing survivors of abuse in state care and faith-based institutions.

They would help guide the work of the pending Royal Commission into historic abuse, which was expanded last year to include both state and faith-based institutions.

Published in Otago Daily Times

Among the members of the group are four Otago men – Mangu Kaha chapter president Albert Epere, Dunedin survivor Michael Chamberlain and Central Otago men Toni Jarvis and Steve Goodlass.

Mr Epere and Mr Jarvis represented state wards, while Mr Chamberlain and Mr Goodlass were both survivors of faith-based abuses.

Mr Chamberlain said he was looking forward to the “great opportunity” of helping “put things in place for the benefit of all survivors”.

He was also pleased to see the wide range of people included in the advisory group.

“I think that’s excellent.”

Commission chairman Sir Anand Satyanand, in a statement, said almost 50 people had applied to join the group, and those selected “represent a wide range of survivor experiences and networks necessary to give advice to the Royal Commission”.

“Survivors are at the centre of the Royal Commission’s work and it is essential their voices are heard and respected.”

The group was expected to meet at least four times a year, in Auckland or Wellington, and would be asked to provide advice on request, although it would not have a decision-making role.

Applicants were not asked about any criminal records, but would bring “lived experience” to the role, an inquiry spokeswoman said.

“Their diversity – representing state, faith, Maori, Pasifika, disability and gangs – means they will provide valuable feedback and advice from those communities.”

By Chris Morris
Published in Otago Daily Times
22 May 2019