Group of people holding a parachute.

Historic Claims - Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get my personal files?

Yes. If you want to have your personal files from your time in care we will arrange to have these sent to you. You will receive all the information that we hold about you.

Some information about other people may be blacked out as is required under the Privacy Act 1993. If you have queries or concerns about particular deletions then you can discuss these with us.

We do not remove any information that might be evidence of possible abuse or neglect. We regard it as your legal right to have this information.

What happens after I contact the Historic Claims team?

After your initial contact, a senior social work advisor from the team will contact you to arrange a time to have a detailed discussion about your experience. In most cases this is usually in person, but sometimes through a phone or video conversation.

The purpose of that discussion is to give you the opportunity to talk with us about the concerns you have about your time in care and to understand how you have been harmed. We will also talk with you about whether there is any help you may need while we look into the matters you have raised with us.

If your complaint is about criminal conduct then the Ministry may, after ensuring it has the appropriate authority, share information about the alleged offending with the Police. If you would like the Police to investigate what happened to you, we would encourage you to contact them. We can help connect you with someone there you can share your experience with.

Can I have someone with me?

Whether we meet with you or discuss your concerns over the phone, you are welcome to have a support person with you. This could be your partner, friend, counsellor or family member.

Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to make a claim with the Historic Claims team but you can engage a lawyer at any time during the process if you wish. If you do get a lawyer then it is likely that any future communication will be with your lawyer rather than direct with you.

What happens next?

Your claim will be assessed by a senior social work advisor. They will look at the social work service and the care you received. This is to see if your care was of an acceptable standard and to understand how you have been harmed. To do this they will review a range of records including information about:

  • your involvement with the Ministry
  • the staff and carers who worked with you
  • the places you stayed, and
  • any other information held by the Ministry that may assist in assessing your claim.If a payment and an apology are to be made to you we will explain how that happens. These payments are based on what’s considered fair and reasonable and are not negotiable.It can take three years or more to complete an assessment of a claim. Please make sure that you speak with us if you need support at any stage during the assessment process. This can include counselling. Also, please let us know if your contact details change.
  • If you are not happy with the outcome, we can talk with you about your options.
  • A social work advisor may also make contact with you during the assessment process to talk about some of the information.

What support is available for me during the process?

You can contact members of the Historic Claims team during business hours toll free on 0800 631 127. If you need extra support this can be organised.

What will I get from this process?

Most people find the process of sharing their concerns with representatives of the Ministry to be extremely valuable. For example in some cases we are able to answer peoples’ questions about their past, like why they came into State care.

If there has been a failure in your care you will receive an apology from the Ministry of Social Development. You may receive a financial payment if you came to harm because of a failure of State care.

Other forms of assistance and services may also be provided, including counselling or access to education. Some counselling assistance can be made available prior to investigation of the matters you raise.

What happens if I don’t agree with the result?

The feedback session provides you with an opportunity to express your views on the findings of the case assessment. We will do our best to resolve things with you, but if this is not possible then you can complain to the Ombudsman, or you are entitled to get legal advice with a view to filing a legal claim at any time during or after the process.

My child is / was in care, can I come to you?

The Historic Claims team works with people who were in care themselves. We are unable to accept claims from the parents or caregivers of people who were in care.

If you have a child who is currently in Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children care and you have concerns about that, then you can access the Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children Complaints process by either approaching your local OT office, ringing the toll free number 0508 326 459 or checking their website:

Group of people holding a parachute.


Historic Claims factsheet

Jun 2018

Related links

Print this page.