- Private sessions get underway
At a private session survivors can share their experiences of abuse with the Royal Commission of Inquiry.
Generally one Commissioner will meet with a survivor at a private session. They will listen and help survivors talk about their experiences and memories. A private session will usually last a couple of hours.
Survivors will be asked to sign a consent form to say they agree to take part in the confidential private session and agree to the session being recorded.
Survivors can change their mind at any time and can withdraw their consent to the information they provide being used by the Royal Commission.
Survivors can bring a support person (or people) with them to the private sessions. These people will also need to agree to maintain the confidentiality of the sessions.
A wellness professional will be available for survivors to speak to before and after the private session. Additional counselling and other support will be available if needed.
The private sessions are not part of a legal process so lawyers are not expected to be involved.
A session facilitator will be at the private session to take notes of what is said. The conversation with the Commissioner will also be recorded. Later, this recording may be transcribed.
Information from private sessions will be used in a number of ways. For example, it may be included in research reports or used to identify topics for the Inquiry to investigate. If lots of people talk about experiences in the same institution then this institution may become an investigation topic. Or, if many people talk about a certain type of abuse, this may become an investigation topic (e.g. ECT).
The common issues identified by survivors may then be investigated and inquired into through the Public Hearings phase of the Inquiry. Survivors might be asked to participate in a Public Hearing, for example, by giving evidence of their experiences.
If it is necessary to prevent a serious risk to the health and safety of any person, or to prevent an anticipated or proposed serious crime from occurring, the Royal Commission may tell the Police or other authorities about information disclosed in a private session.
That could, for example, include a current suicide risk, or information that a person is currently committing serious criminal offending.