Why is the Royal Commission holding workshops?
The Royal Commission is holding hearings in the form of workshops to gather evidence in a less formal setting than the public hearings held in 2019. Workshops will be used to test propositions and ideas with panels of witnesses focussed on a specific issue or topic.
Are workshops public?
As of March 2020, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has suspended all hearings and workshops for the time being, subject to ongoing review. This decision is a consequence of the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and based on information available from the Australian Government and affects all hearings and workshops scheduled until at least the end of May 2020.
Read the full media release.
What will happen at workshops?
Group discussions between panels of individuals will be facilitated by Counsel Assisting and presided over by the Commissioners. Individual participants will not be examined in the way familiar in ordinary hearings, but will be questioned where useful to test propositions or may be invited to expand on views expressed.
What is the difference between a workshop and a public hearing?
Workshops are hearings of the Royal Commission and the provisions of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) and the Royal Commissions Regulations 2019 (Cth) relevant to hearings and witnesses apply to workshops.
Workshops will be less formal than the public hearings held in 2019. They will not be conducted in a hearing room setting. Unlike public hearings, witnesses will not prepare witness statements.
What is the difference between a workshop and a roundtable?
Workshops are more formal and structured than roundtables, which are largely discussions between the Commissioners, stakeholders and academics.
Counsel Assisting will facilitate dialogue between workshop participants. Unlike roundtables, participants in workshops are witnesses and the information they provide is evidence.
Unlike roundtables, workshops will be conducted publicly. They will be live-streamed and the transcripts will be published on the Royal Commission’s website.
I have not been invited to participate in a workshop, can I come anyway and share my views with the Commissioners?
No. Participation in workshops is by invitation only. The best way to share your views with the Royal Commission is to make a submission.
How many people will be on each workshop panel?
Panel sizes will vary. Panels will be convened with as few as two or three and as many as nine individuals.
How are workshop participants selected?
Workshop participants are selected based on a range of factors, including their:
- submissions to the Royal Commission
- responses to consultation papers
- experience or expertise
- past engagement with the Royal Commission.
I have been invited to participate in a workshop, can you tell me who else has been invited to my panel?
Yes, you will be given this information.
Will the list of participants in a workshop be made publicly available?
Yes, the Royal Commission will announce the details of workshops, including participants, in advance of each workshop.
Can I send someone else in my place?
No, we ask that proxies not be sent to workshops. If you have a difficulty with the date of the workshop, please get in touch with your designated contact to discuss your options.
I have been invited to participate, can I bring a lawyer?
Yes, you may bring a lawyer if you wish. We do not anticipate lawyers will play a role at workshops beyond observing proceedings. There will be limited seating for lawyers. If you wish to have a lawyer attend please ask them to complete an application for leave to appear.
Will I need to prepare a written statement?
No, workshop participants do not need to prepare written statements, but may be referred to their written submissions previously submitted.
Do I need to prepare anything?
You may be asked to consider an issues paper or consultation paper in advance of the workshop. You should be prepared to discuss your thoughts on the subject matter of the workshop and prepare anything that will assist you in presenting these thoughts to the Commissioners. However, we do not expect specific preparation for workshops. You are not expected to prepare detailed statements or other documents.
You should be familiar with any submissions you or your organisation have previously provided to the Royal Commission relevant to the subject matter of the workshop, and with the submissions of other participants in that workshop that have been provided to you.
Will there be a transcript?
Yes, workshops will be transcribed and the transcript will be published on the Royal Commission’s website.
Will workshops be video recorded?
Yes, workshops will be live-streamed on the Royal Commission’s website and the video will be made publicly available.
Will there be tender bundles?
Yes, strictly limited to documents that will be referred to by Counsel Assisting at the workshop.
Can I refer to documents?
If you wish to refer to documents as part of your presentation at a workshop you should provide them to the Royal Commission in advance and by the time specified by members of the staff of the Royal Commission. There will be limited capacity to display documents in the workshop room.
Will I receive a summons?
No, the Commissioners do not intend to issue summonses to appear to workshop attendees. However, arrangements can be made if it is preferable to you to receive a summons.
Am I a witness?
Yes, for the purposes of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) and the Royal Commissions Regulations 2019 (Cth), workshop participants are witnesses and what they say at workshops is evidence.
The Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) contains various provisions about the rights and obligations of witnesses and the protections afforded to witnesses. These include that:
- a person shall not intentionally give evidence at a hearing that a person knows to be false or misleading: s 6H(1)
- giving false evidence at a hearing is an offence: s 6H(2)
Is support available if I am anxious, nervous or uncertain about being a witness?
Yes, witness support is available on request prior to, during and after you give evidence.
Will I have to take an oath or make an affirmation?
Workshop participants will be invited to take an oath or make an affirmation.
Can what I say be used against me?
No. The Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) contains various provisions about the protections afforded to witnesses. These include that:
- statements or disclosures made in the course of giving evidence before the Royal Commission are not admissible in evidence against a natural person (that is, you) in any civil or criminal proceedings in any court of the Commonwealth, of a state or of a territory: s 6DD(1)
- it is an offence for someone to use, cause or inflict, any violence, punishment, damage, loss, or disadvantage to you on account of you having appeared as a witness before the Royal Commission: s 6M
- it is an offence for your employer to dismiss you or prejudice your employment on account of you having appeared as a witness before the Royal Commission: s 6N(1)
Will I be paid for my time?
Yes, witnesses appearing before the Royal Commission are entitled to be paid a reasonable sum for the expenses of their attendance (s 6G). The amount to which you are entitled is prescribed by reg 6 of the Royal Commissions Regulations 2019 (Cth).