Government To Appeal Court Order On Institution Abuse
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 12, 2006
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--The New Zealand Ministry of Health said Tuesday that it would appeal a court's order to pay $34,000 that had been withheld from a $114,000 compensation package for former Lake Alice Hospital patient Paul Zentveld.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the ministry said the Wellington District Court was wrong last month when it made that ruling, which could affect scores of people who were patients of the psychiatric hospital's adolescent unit during the 1960s and 1970s. Those patients, most of whom were between age 8 and 16 at the time of their hospitalizations, have alleged that they endured years of abuse at the hands of adult patients and staff.
The government promised compensation to many of the former Lake Alice patients in 2001. But when they received the money, as much as 30 percent of what they had been promised was missing. The government said the money was withheld for legal fees.
In their complaints, those former patients alleged that, among other things, staff at the institution routinely used electric shock treatments, painful injections, and isolation to punish them for everything from getting poor grades to not eating their meals. In some cases, other patients, including children, dealt out the punishments. Some also claimed that they were locked in rooms with adults who sexually abused them.
Last week, lawyers for 350 former patients of other New Zealand institutions claimed their clients were subjected to abuse similar to what those at Lake Alice endured. One of the attorneys, Roger Chapman, said that even though the first of those claims is scheduled for court in October 2007, he expects many more former patients to come forward in the next few months.
Most of the facilities named in the complaints are either closed or no longer operate as mental institutions.
"Date set for former psychiatric patients' action against govt" (New Zealand Press Association)
"Culture Of Abuse Revealed At Former New Zealand Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)