Allegations of Abuse in Institutions
The Salvation Army has started paying compensation to people claiming to have been abused as children while in the religious charity's care.
At least two people from the army's former childrens homes have had their claims settled and others are considering financial offers. Complainants are believed to have received about $8000.
Another woman was offered more than $20,000, but has not accepted the gesture.
The Salvation Army is investigating at least 36 formal complaints of physical or sexual abuse, mostly from the 1940s and 1950s. Some allegations were of older boys abusing younger boys, but most related to staff. Most complaints stemmed from stays at the Hodderville Boys Home in the Waikato town of Putaruru, and another home in Masterton. Several complaints relate to a former home in Temuka, which closed in the late 1970s.
Child, Youth and Family (CYF) is also investigating abuse complaints from 33 people who believed they were state wards when sent to the army's homes. Up to 8000 children were cared for nationwide by the army between 1903 and 1993.
Salvation Army Abuse Survivors spokeswoman Jan Lowe confirmed two of its 45 members had reached settlements with the army. Another three were considering offers.
"We want public acknowledgement that the abuse happened and for the Salvation Army to say it's sorry," said Lowe.
Lowe and some fellow members have been invited to meet with army representatives. Others had yet to be approached.
She had written to the army on her group's behalf, saying members were prepared to meet if the army paid for their legal representation as well as reasonable travel and accommodation costs. Lowe was awaiting a reply.
Salvation Army spokesman Major Alistair Herring would not comment on settlements.
"We are simply resolving issues with people and working with them on an individual basis," he said. "We certainly have organised counselling for some people."
Formal claims for compensation had been filed through lawyers and were being dealt with by the army's legal representatives. Complainants were not required to sign confidentiality clauses in relation to settlements, said Herring.
"It's been a very sad, often very painful process, but a very healthy process for us from day one. One situation of abuse is one too many," said Herring. "We've really wanted to be able to provide for people a process which brings for them healing."
Former Children's Commissioner Roger McClay, appointed by the army in October to independently monitor its investigation, has now finished his role. The survivors group refused to deal with him, saying he had a conflict of interest as he was paid by the army.
A CYF spokeswoman said a team was searching for the files of the 33 individuals who had contacted the department, claiming abuse or neglect in army homes. Most had been found.