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.
Next week we recommence 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.
For those survivors who do not want to attend a private session at this stage, they have the option of completing a written account or having a private session via audio visual technology with a Commissioner.
The Commission has also been working on processes and procedures for group sessions and we will provide a further update about these in June
The Royal Commission appreciates that the changes to some of our planned services will have been stressful for some people. We are looking forward to restarting private sessions as they are an important part of our mahi and give survivors the opportunity to share their experiences with the Commission.