Apology in the New Zealand’s Mental Health Law Context: An Enigmatic Juxtaposition?
Posted: 10 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 7, 2011
Apology has particular significance for historic psychiatric abuses in New Zealand. In 2001, the New Zealand Government announced that personal apologies had been expressed for mistreatment of children and adolescents at Lake Alice Hospital during the 1970s. Additionally, the Government offered a financial settlement to some survivors and responded to victims’ needs by establishing a Confidential Forum and later a Confidential Listening and Assistant Service. The latter has been depicted as a constructive, reconciliatory response to historic incidents that deeply affected people at the time of confinement and that still affect their present lives.
Yet people who participate in the service may also make a claim for damages through litigation. This is a potentially peculiar juxtaposition because aggrieved people may pursue conventional, adversarial litigation while simultaneously expressing their distress to an independent panel “in the journey to a place of internal peace, resolution and calmness”. This chapter examines New Zealand’s apology and reconciliatory process through Marrus’ definition of “complete apology”, aiming to understand New Zealand’s effort to achieve closure.
Keywords: apology, mental health law, New Zealand, Lake Alice Hospital
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