The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will hold private sessions in Townsville for the first time from 17 to 20 March 2015.
Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed explained that private sessions are critical to the Commission’s work, as they allow Commissioners to hear firsthand of the impact of abuse on people and how the response of an institution affects survivors over their lifetime.
“Through private sessions, we are learning about the impact of child sexual abuse not only on individuals, but their families and communities.
Mr Reed said private sessions also provide information on systemic issues and institutions that may be considered in public hearings.
Private sessions are held in a confidential, safe and supported environment. Commission staff provide counselling and can arrange interpreters or other communication assistance if required.
“The experiences and insights people share in private sessions directly inform the Commission’s work in developing recommendations that will provide a just response for people who have been sexually abused and ensure institutions better protect children in the future,” Mr Reed said.
“This month, 18 survivors of child sexual abuse in Townsville will have the opportunity to tell the Royal Commission of their experiences in a private session with a Commissioner.”
Mr Reed said that while it can be difficult for people to talk about the abuse they suffered, “the opportunity to tell their story can be an important part of the recovery process.”
The Royal Commission has already held more than 3,000 private sessions in cities and towns across Australia. In the first half of 2015, the Royal Commission will hold private sessions in at least eight regional centres across Australia, and for the first time will hold regional public hearings in Rockhampton (April) and Ballarat (May).
If you were sexually abused as a child while in the care of an Australian institution, you can share your story with the Royal Commission by phoning 1800 099 340 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.