Survivors of abuse in State and faith-based institutions have begun sharing their experiences with Commissioners in private sessions.

The private sessions allow survivors to share their experiences and memories with individual Commissioners.

These early sessions are also being used to seek feedback on things such as content and process, logistics, location, communications and support to improve the delivery of the sessions.

To date, more than 70 survivors - who had pre-registered with the Royal Commission - have spoken to Commissioners.  The sessions were held in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.   

Commissioner Ali’imuamua Sandra Alofivae says the sessions are the first opportunity many people will have to share their experiences of abuse.

“We know this process can be traumatising; we are doing everything we can to make it as easy as possible for survivors.

“Survivors can change their mind at any time, or withdraw their consent to the information they provide being used by the Royal Commission.

“Wellbeing professionals are available for survivors to speak to before and after the private sessions, and additional counselling and other support is available if needed,” she says.

Sandra Alofivae says the sessions will continue for the duration of the Inquiry and registrations will be taken for a number of years.

“We plan to engage with many different communities, including those which are hard to reach, such as survivors with disabilities, gang members and those in prison.

“The first step for those who wish to share their experiences of abuse is to contact the Royal Commission by phoning our Contact Centre (0800) 222 727 or pre-registering on our website:”

The Royal Commission will prioritise those who are older or unwell and want to share their experiences. 

“Our priority is on survivors and ensuring they are able to share their experiences of abuse with the Royal Commission in the most effective way,” she says.