Royal Commission publishes new Australia-wide private session dates

November 12, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published the dates and locations of the private sessions to be held throughout Australia for the remainder of 2013. Further dates will be published subsequently.

RoyalCommissionPrivate Session Dates
18 November 2013 – Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Cairns
25 November 2013 – Sydney
02 December 2013 – Sydney, Brisbane and Perth
09 December 2013 – Sydney, Melbourne
16 December 2013 – Melbourne and Brisbane

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What is a private session?

If you’re affected by child sexual abuse in an institution, you can tell the Royal Commission of your experiences in a private session with a Commissioner. Private sessions are an important way for Commissioners to bear witness and to hear first hand about the impact of child sexual abuse to better understand how it might be prevented in the future.

A private session is a meeting where you tell your story to one or two Commissioners. It’s confidential and informal.

Who will be present?

The Commissioners will decide who can be in the room during a private session. Usually it will be you, your support person and one Commissioner and a Royal Commission officer. You and your support person will sit at a table with the Commissioner and the Royal Commission officer when you tell your story.

A lawyer can only attend a private session as an “advocate” if the Commissioners agree to this although a lawyer can attend as your support person if you wish.

Representatives of the institution or person you may complain about won’t be present.

Sometimes two people, or a group of people, may want to tell their stories together in a private session. Please tell us if you want to do this when you contact us.

What happens in a private session?

Someone from the Royal Commission will greet you when you arrive. We’ll make arrangements to take you and your support person into the room and introduce you to the Commissioners.

When you tell your story in a private session, the Commissioners will not judge you or your story. They won’t make decisions about whether what you say is the truth. The Commissioners want to understand your experience, and will probably ask you questions to better understand what happened. You can say that you don’t want to answer some, or any, questions.

You won’t be asked to give intimate details about what happened if you don’t want to talk about that.

At private sessions you won’t be asked to take an oath or say you’ll tell the truth, but you should tell the truth. You can hand over documents in a private session, but you don’t have to.

We’ll record all private sessions and we may write a transcript of what we record. You can ask to read the transcript, if there is one, but we can’t give you a copy to keep because of confidentiality rules.

At the end of the private session you can speak to a counsellor for support.

What if I have signed a confidentiality agreement?

You can speak to a Commissioner at a private session if you have signed a confidentiality agreement with an institution. The Royal Commission legislation allows you to do this.

Legal Questions and Concerns

The information you provide in private sessions is confidential and not on the public record. For most people the information provided in a private session will not be used as evidence in hearings. If the Royal Commission wants to use your information in a hearing we will contact you to seek your permission. Information provided at hearings is on the public record.

Can I ask someone to speak for me?

If you don’t want to speak yourself, the Royal Commission may agree that a support person can tell your story at a private session. This might be someone from a support or advocacy group. Please tell us beforehand if this is how you want your story told.

If you have a disability that makes it hard for you to tell your story, you may be able to use a support person to speak for you. Please tell us if you (or the person you’re helping) have special needs when you contact us.

Do I have to meet face to face?

You don’t have to come to a private session to tell your story. You can write down your story or tell us your story over the phone. To find out more, please read our fact sheet called How to tell your story (available on our Fact Sheets page), or contact us.

Online materials

The Royal Commission recently published a number of online materials which you may find useful in understanding, or helping others to understand, the breadth of the work of the Commission.

Watch the Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Justice Peter McClellan AM, explain the work of the Royal Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions are answered on the following page:

A list of support services to help individuals who have been affected by child abuse can be found at the following address:

The Commission has produced information in a number of different languages, to access those resources click on the following link:

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