Abuse in care inquiry: ‘I learnt that I was nobody’


A man who has become an international disability rights activist was treated “like a slave” in care and learned he was “nobody”, he told a Royal Commission hearing.

Robert Martin is the first person with a learning disability to be elected to a UN Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mr Martin was born in 1957 and was brain-damaged at birth by a doctor using forceps. He was put into care at the age of 18 months.

In the years to follow he was in and out of institutional care.

All he wanted as a child was to picked up, cuddled and loved, but it never happened, he told inquiry into abuse in state and faith-based care in Auckland on Tuesday

Mr Martin said he, like many other children, were locked away from the community, when all they wanted was to be with their families.

“As a toddler in Kimberly I was fed and changed and taken care of but I do not remember being picked up, loved or cuddled because there were so many of us and we were just a number.”

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