Gloriavale laid bare before Inquiry

Gloriavale laid bare before Inquiry

By Laura Mills | Greymouth Star |

Gloriavale says it is getting some clothing made in China to free up women from sewing chores at the Lake Haupiri Christian community.

Parents are also supervising children more as the community brings about a culture change in response to child abuse.

Overseeing Shepherd Howard Temple told the Royal commission into abuse in care on Thursday that parents were expected to have oversight of their own children, and the community had made a number of changes in recent years to provide for more family life.

There was more time on Saturdays in particular for men to spend with their families.

They had outsourced some clothing manufacturing to China, which freed up some women, and they had provided additional kitchen resources.

There had also been a shift to evening meals being served in the hostels, rather than being eaten communally.

“This gives families more time together and a smaller group rather than in the much larger communal dining areas” Mr Temple said.

“We obviously needed better family relationships, relationships between parents and children so the children would feel more relaxed talking to mum and dad about these issues.

Mr Temple said he’d taken this seriously as he could see that families needed more time together to just sit down and talk.

The preschool has been cut from six days to five, with two afternoons where preschool stopped at 1 pm so that the children could go home with their mothers to give them some more time together.

During the first Covid lockdown in March 2020, families were having meals at home in the hostel lounge rooms or living rooms. That had improved parent child relationships, and so when lockdown finished they continue to serve tea at home rather than communally.

Gloriavale also recently set up an online survey tool where people can raise issues anonymously, or drop them in a box in the community dining room.

Mr Temple said the need to be sensitive around victims was paramount, however without a structure for identifying alleged victims it was difficult to provide appropriate support of the parents were not pushing the situation.

Police did not report back on the specifics of individual cases all the names of the victims.

“Families sometimes change rooms in our accommodation buildings, and we need to know who to keep apart. We would like to avoid these situations but have no knowledge to work with.”

Mr Temple said Gloriavale had traditionally discouraged boyfriend/girlfriend relationships in order to encourage sexual purity.

“We saw nothing wrong with teams of boys being together, and we were shocked in 2021 when many issues of harmful sexual behaviour among the boys came to our attention.

We immediately introduced better supervision for the children outside school hours and raised the parents’ awareness of their supervision of the children in the evenings, so that older children were not able to be with younger ones without supervision.

The changes to our after-school care now mean that the relationships that once existed are less likely to develop, and there is far less chance of bullying and sexual abuse occurring.”