You can share your experience, in person with a Commissioner, at a private session.
This page lets you know what to expect from a private session and what you can do to prepare for your session. There is also information about what will happen after your private session.
In March the Commission postponed all scheduled private sessions due to the COVID-19 level four lockdown. Since that time we have been contacting survivors to check in, update their records and offer them three methods of engagement with the Commission, a face to face private session, a private session via video call or the option of providing a written account.
On 2 June we recommenced face to face private sessions in the Auckland and Wellington regions. It is our plan to see survivors in these regions over the coming two months, before we look at travelling further afield. Auckland and Wellington have been selected based on the volume of survivors who have asked to be seen in these areas, and the availability of Commissioners and staff. In July we will look at travelling to other regions throughout New Zealand.
We are following Ministry of Health guidelines for private sessions and taking extra precautions to ensure the wellbeing of survivors, staff and Commissioners. We will be hosting two private sessions per day instead of three as this will allow the rooms to be thoroughly cleaned between sessions. As part of our precautions, we are also checking in with survivors about their health and wellbeing to ensure that there is no risk to them if they choose to attend a private session.
First we will make sure the place, date, and time for your private session suits you. We will then give you an information pack with the time, date and venue of your private session. We can also help arrange transport.
We will work with you to make sure you feel comfortable and can participate fully on the day.
Before the day of your session it may help to think about what you want to say. You may also like to write down what you want to share with the Commissioner.
You can send this information to the Commissioner to read before your session or bring it with you on the day. You can also write down things you want the Commissioner to know but do not want to talk about.
You will be met at the entrance to the venue by a Private Session Facilitator. They will show you around the venue and private session room, answer any questions and provide refreshments.
A Wellbeing Person will be available to speak to if you wish.
When you feel ready to talk to the Commissioner they will join you in the room and introduce themselves. The session will begin when the Commissioner asks you to confirm that you agree to take part in the session and turns the audio recorder on.
One of our Commissioners will meet with you to listen to your story. They may ask questions about your experiences.
A Private Session Facilitator from the Royal Commission will also be in the room. They will take notes and record the session but they will not ask questions.
You can also ask for the Wellbeing person to come into the room (or leave) at any time.
It helps us to understand your story if you speak about your life before, during and after going into care, as well as the effects of abuse on your family, whānau and communities.
We would also be interested to know your thoughts on what changes should be made around care in the future so that abuse cannot continue to happen.
You can bring people to support you at the private session.
Your support person, or people, might be from your whānau, family, a friend or somebody else you trust. You can find more information about how a support person might be able to help you in the Information for Support People factsheet.
You can choose how much you want to say about any part of your experiences in your private session.
Sometimes a Commissioner may ask questions to make sure they are clear about what you are saying. However, you do not have to answer or speak about anything you do not want to.
Counselling and support is available following your private session. You do not have to decide straight away what support you need. Please contact us whenever you are ready to talk about the different counselling and support options available.
Transcripts will only be provided if you ask for a copy of the written version of your conversation with the Commissioner. You can request a copy at any time throughout the Inquiry and it will be sent to you when it is ready.
Private sessions will be recorded and a written version of your conversation with the Commissioner will be created afterwards. You can ask us to send a copy of this written version after your session.
The inquiry may use your information in a number of ways:
The information from private sessions will be kept secure, and access is strictly limited to Inquiry staff who need it for a specific purpose. Published work from the Inquiry may include anonymised quotes, paragraphs or summaries from what you share with us.
Your personal details will not be published, and we will make sure that no-one is able to identify you from any anonymised published information.
Yes, all information you provide is confidential. All Commissioners and staff have signed strict confidentiality agreements as part of their work. All support people attending a private session will be asked to confirm that they understand everything talked about in the session is confidential.
There are 4 important exceptions to this confidentiality.
At the end of the Inquiry, all information created by the Inquiry will be transferred to Archives New Zealand and become part of the public record. Information from private sessions will have restricted access. This means that there would be no public access to the information for 100 years.
Yes. In the Inquiry’s view speaking to a Commissioner in a confidential private session does not amount to “publishing” a name in breach of a suppression order.