February 2018: Royal Commission established
In February 2018, the Government announced the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and asked Sir Anand Satyanand to consult on the draft Terms of Reference.
Between February and May, Sir Anand consulted with survivors, interested parties and the New Zealand public.
The Commission received more than 400 submissions in writing, by phone and in face-to-face interviews. Half the submissions were from survivors of abuse, or from people on behalf of survivors.
Some came from institutions and entities with views to offer such as the Law Societies, churches and people professionally associated with social work.
Many submissions advocated for expanding the scope to include non-state care.
November 2018: Terms of Reference announced
The final Terms of Reference were announced on 12 November 2018.
Importantly, the Government agreed to:
- Extend the scope of the Inquiry to include faith-based institutions
- Acknowledge the Treaty of Waitangi and
- Allow the Commission discretion to consider issues and experiences prior to 1950 and after 1999.
These elements were recommended for inclusion in the final Terms of Reference.
January 2019: Engagements get underway
When the Government announced the final Terms of Reference, it also announced the appointment of the Commissioners who will support the Chair, Sir Anand Satyanand:
- Ali’imuamua Sandra Alofivae
- Dr Andrew Erueti
- Paul Gibson
- Her Honour Judge Coral Shaw.
The Commissioners have a diverse range of backgrounds and bring a combined set of skills and experience necessary for the work of the Inquiry.
They received their warrants on 3 January 2019, their first formal working day for the Commission.
This allowed the Inquiry's work to begin in earnest.
February 2019: Initial Commission meetings held
From late January until mid-March, Commissioners held a series of meetings with interested parties. These engagements – held in both Wellington and Auckland - included key individuals and organisations with a strong interest in the work of the Inquiry. In all, more than 30 meetings were held with more than 70 individuals and organisations.
The meetings were an opportunity for Commissioners to:
- Hear about expectations of the Inquiry
- Test their vision of the Inquiry and anticipated outcomes
- Test the advice they have received from the Secretariat
- Gain confidence in their approach ahead of private sessions and public hearings taking place.
Included in the discussions were:
- Survivors and representatives of survivor networks
- Māori and Pasefika advocates
- Disability groups
- Faith-based survivors and advocates
- Social sector agencies
- Government agencies and Crown entities
- Researchers and academics
- Legal providers
March 2019: Preservation of documents Notice issued
The Government’s Chief Archivist implemented a disposal moratorium over any information held by government agencies that may be relevant to the Inquiry.
This means Government agencies are prohibited from disposing of potentially relevant information to make sure it is available.
The same expectation applies to faith-based institutions and all other bodies involved in providing care (for example non-government organisations).
Where appropriate, the Commission will require individuals from both state and non-state agencies to provide statutory declarations to explain why any material has been lost or destroyed.
The Commission’s Preservation of Documents notice.
April 2019: Conflict of Interest & Te Tiriti o Waitangi policies
Conflict of Interest
A Conflict of Interest policy was drafted last year, and re-affirmed by Commissioners on 20 March this year.
The policy, which is on the Royal Commission website, is about making sure the Inquiry has a way of identifying and managing actual, perceived and real conflicts of interest for the duration of the Inquiry.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi
The Inquiry is underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles. This policy guides our decisions as we undertake our work.
May 2019: Survivor Advisory Group plans announced
The Survivor Advisory Group is one of the methods Commissioners will use to ensure the voice of survivors is heard and recognised through the work of the Inquiry.
The Survivor Advisory Group provides advice directly to Commissioners.
- The Group will meet face-to-face, for a full day, at least 4 times per year.
- Meetings will be held in either Auckland or Wellington.
- There may be additional and/or optional activities between meetings depending on the work programme of the Group.
- Survivor Advisory Group terms of appointment will be for 18 months, after which membership will be refreshed.
- Survivor Advisory Group participants will receive a payment in acknowledgement of their time and expertise. All reasonable expenses will be funded by the Inquiry.
Applications for the Survivor Advisory Group have now closed; 49 applications were received in total.
May 2019: 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.
June 2019: Preliminary hearing in Auckland
At the Preliminary hearing on 25 June 2019 we shared information about:
- Why the commission was established
- What a Royal Commission is
- How we will do our work
- Detail about private sessions, public hearings and research
- How the public hearings will work
You can watch a recording of the Preliminary hearing for more detail or read the speeches made by our commissioners at the hearing.
August 2019: Procedural hearing in Auckland
At this Procedural hearing, we will provide all the information you need to know about the Public hearing, such as how to apply for leave to appear.
It is also an opportunity for individuals, groups, institutions or other organisations who wish to formally participate in the Inquiry, to apply to be a core participant of the Inquiry.