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Millions Missing From Promised Abuse Compensation
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 29, 2006

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--It was between three and four decades ago that youths in the adolescent unit at Lake Alice Hospital endured years of abuse at the hands of adult patients and staff.

It appears that many former patients, most now in their forties, may have to go to court again in order to get all of the compensation they had been promised four years ago.

Those former patients have claimed that when they were children, 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, punishments were dealt out by other patients, including children. They also claimed that they were locked in rooms with adults who sexually abused them.

Scores of former patients were promised compensation from the government in 2002. 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, but did not elaborate.

Last week, a judge ruled that former patient Paul Zentveld should be paid $34,000 that was withheld from the $114,000 he had been promised.

The government has two weeks to appeal the judge's ruling, the Wanganui Chronicle reported.

But National Party mental health spokesman Dr. Jonathan Coleman said the Minister of Health should come forward and explain to New Zealanders why the government decided to withhold the money from those who had received financial awards.

"Why was this deal kept secret?" Coleman asked in a press release, adding that the decision has major implications for the 87 other claimants in Zentveld's class.

"The Government needs to be upfront about how the decision was reached, apologize to the claimants, and stop dragging the chain in paying them the $3 million that is rightfully theirs.

More than 300 people who were patients at New Zealand psychiatric institutions during the 1960s and 1970s have alleged that they were beaten, sexually assaulted, over-medicated, unwillingly subjected to experiments in electro-convulsive treatments, and placed in isolation for long periods of time -- sometimes for months.

Most were between 8 and 16 years of age at the time.

Most of the facilities named in the claims are either are closed or no longer operate as mental institutions.

"Lake Alice compo issue revived" (Wanganui Chronicle)
"Lake Alice deal: Hodgson must explain" (New Zealand National Party)
"Culture Of Abuse At Former New Zealand Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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