Source: New Zealand Government
Abuse in state care survivors can take part in the forthcoming Royal Commission proceedings without being bound by any confidentiality obligations to Crown agencies under their historic claim settlements, Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins said.
Crown agencies that are party to claims settlements have agreed to waive any confidentiality clauses that formed part of the settlements, to ensure open communication with the Commission.
“We have done this so survivors can be confident about coming forward and speaking freely with the Commission,” Chris Hipkins said.
“If they wish, they can now tell the Commission about their settlement details.
“The Crown is determined that the Abuse in Care Inquiry be an open and transparent process. Survivors must be heard, and feel heard.
“The Commission must be able to question witnesses without them feeling tied down by any confidentiality obligations they may have signed with Crown agencies.
“I want to, however, be clear that this decision does not oblige survivors to disclose any personal information to the Commission unless they want to. Survivor’s privacy will be respected,” Chris Hipkins said.
Agencies that have reached settlements with historic abuse survivors include the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development, Oranga Tamariki and their predecessors.
As Minister for State Services, Chris Hipkins leads the Crown’s response to the Royal Commission. The Commission’s first public hearing will start in late October.
This decision only applies to Crown agencies – it won’t cover confidentiality obligations that are part of settlement agreements with other parties, such as private care providers, school boards of trustees or district health boards. In addition, the Crown cannot waive any confidentiality requirements that are ordered by a Court.
For help with this, survivors should contact the Crown agency they have dealt with. If they are unsure who to contact, email the Crown secretariat managing the Government’s response to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission, at email@example.com