People First New Zealand Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi welcomes the Human Rights Commission and Donald Beasley Institute report ‘Institutions are places of abuse’ that was released yesterday.Many of our older members grew up and spent significant parts of their lives in institutions and are continuing to live with the damage.

As a People First Life Member and Independent Expert on the United Nations Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Mr Robert Martin says institutions were meant to be places of care and protection, but instead they were places of neglect and abuse.

People First New Zealand joined the Never Again campaign that is calling for an inquiry and an apology, as our members feel it is important to acknowledge the past harm of institutionalisation.  Our members want to make sure this type of large segregation or ‘out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy never happens again in New Zealand.

We want to see all disabled people free from harm. People First New Zealand has over 25 local self-advocacy groups around New Zealand, which people with learning disability can join and learn about their rights and how to speak up for them.

People First also has a course specifically designed for people with learning disability to learn about all types of abuse and what do to if harm happens to them. Sadly, we do not have the funding needed to deliver these courses.

People First New Zealand, along with many others, believes it’s time for justice and urges the government to put in place an inquiry to redress past harm and ensure New Zealand is doing its best to safeguard people, now and in the future.