Anglican Church to consider request from Royal Commission to waive victim confidentiality agreements

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The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care in New Zealand has asked the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and the Roman Catholic Church to waive confidentiality agreements signed by victims of child abuse while under church-supervised care.

Organized in 2018 with a brief akin to royal commissions in Australia, Canada and the UK investigating child abuse in church and secular institutions is expected to examine cases of abuse from 1950 to 1999. Approximately 100,000 children were in care during this period.

On 14 August the Commission welcomed the decision by Crown agencies to lift confidentiality obligations on survivors of abuse in State care arising from settlement agreements with the Crown.

This means survivors who want to participate in the Inquiry can choose to share their settlement details with Commissioners if they wish, despite any confidentiality agreements with Crown agencies.

The Inquiry’s Counsel Assisting Simon Mount QC said the waiver is intended to enable survivors to engage with the Commission freely, even if they have entered into confidential settlements with the Crown in the past.

“We requested the confidentiality waiver earlier this year to ensure survivors can share their experiences and effectively take part in the Inquiry, despite any settlement agreements with the Crown” Mr. Simon said.

At a hearing held on 20 Aug 2019, attorneys for the Catholic and Anglican Churches said they would consider lifting legal agreements that banned victims’ testimony.

Sally McKenchie, representing the Catholic church, told the commission: “The Catholic Church will come before you, in the spirit of cooperation and transparency.” Sonja Cooper, speaking for the Anglican church, said it would do likewise.

Public hearings begin at the end of October.