National | Abuse

Beautiful Children report on Lake Alice abuse presented to Parliament

Some survivors of child abuse at Lake Alice Hospital say the Royal Commission of Inquiry report titled Beautiful Children doesn't go far enough.

Tamariki and rangatahi experienced physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and torture at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit in the 1970s, the report confirms. The abuse was widespread and unchecked, the report found

Rangi Wickliffe spent seven months at Lake Alice in the 1970s, where he was raped, sodomised, and tortured by both patients and staff members.

Psychiatrist Selwyn Leeks and some of the unit’s staff inflicted extreme physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect, degradation, and seclusion on the children and young people in their care from 1972 to 1980, the report concluded. it said the atmosphere in the unit was one of intense fear.

Survivors of Lake Alice abuse have their say.

According to the report. the use of electric shocks, or ECT, to punish met the definition of torture. Many survivors turned to crime and were imprisoned. The harm to survivors has been passed down over generations.

Wickliffe says his descendants are a result of that intergenerational trauma.

"At this moment I've got two grandkids who are in prison who were in residential care. They came out of residential care. They went in as mischievous kids, grandchildren and they came out as experienced standover boys."

Wickliffe says, there is no coming back from the pain he suffered.

"I'm 61 now. I'm a great-grandfather and I've told people I'm not going to recover from this. You might recover after one or two rapes, maybe three but when you're talking multiple rapes, while immersed in unmodified ECT, it's pure and straightforward torture for the rest of your life. It's not something that you can wake up to one day and say your life is good."