16 Mar 2020

Royal Commission delays abuse hearings over Covid-19 fears

7:21 pm on 16 March 2020

The Royal Commission into historical abuse in care has delayed a public hearing planned for next week.

Last day of the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care.  Attendees and witnesses tied ribbons at the nearby St Patrick and St Joseph Cathedral.

Ribbons were tied to the fence of the St Patrick and St Joseph Cathedral when the hearings wound up for a summer break in 2019. Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

It says the public hearing on the State Response to Civil Redress and Civil Litigation Claims risked spreading the Covid-19 virus.

The hearing was to be held over two two-week periods from next week until May, but is now expected to take place in July.

The commission is also postponing private interviews with survivors of abuse scheduled for the next two weeks.

"Several participants in the public hearing have recently travelled internationally. At least two would be required to self-isolate and would therefore be unable to participate fully," said the inquiry's chair, Judge Coral Shaw.

"We recognise the trauma many of our survivors feel so it's hugely important we provide a safe, comfortable environment for our survivors to share their stories. By deferring the hearing and private sessions we can achieve this," says Judge Shaw.

Anyone with concerns or questions can contact the commission's freephone on 0800 222 727.

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