The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry acted swiftly in August 2019 when it learned that the partner of a Survivor Advisory Group member has convictions for sexual offending.
Prompt steps were taken to ensure the person had no further engagement with the Survivor Advisory Group or Royal Commission.
The person in question was not a member of the Survivor Advisory Group and did not participate in any meetings. He is a partner of a Survivor Advisory Group member and provided support and transport to three meetings.
Survivor Advisory Group members are not employees of the Royal Commission and as such there was no vetting done of them (or of their partners) before their appointment. Vetting of Survivor Advisory Group members is now underway.
Commissioners met with the Minister of Internal Affairs today to outline the steps being taken to ensure this does not happen again.
Commissioner Coral Shaw said that Survivor Advisory Group meetings are postponed until an appropriate safety checking system is in place. This will include identifying any relevant criminal convictions which may traumatise or harm others.
“Police conviction checks will be required for Group members and all support people who accompany them to meetings” she said.
Survivor Advisory Group members have been provided wellbeing support and have been offered ongoing care from the Royal Commission.
Commissioner Shaw says Survivors can continue to feel safe to engage with the Inquiry.
The inquiry is proceeding with its comprehensive work plan, including private sessions and public hearings.
“We have 1400 people registered with the Commission. Almost 150 survivors, including those in prisons, have so far shared their stories with us in private sessions.
“We are preparing for our Contextual Public hearing beginning on 29 October. We will hear from around 30 witnesses, including survivors and experts.
“We will continue our work so the experiences of survivors can be heard and we, as a nation, can transform the way we care for our children, young people and vulnerable adults.”