4.3 Direct personal response
A direct personal response (DPR) is one of the 3 outcomes offered through the Scheme to eligible survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
A DPR is a formal opportunity to acknowledge the abuse the person suffered while under the 'care' of an institution. It is an opportunity for a person to have their story of abuse and its impacts heard in a safe and supportive space, and have this responded to by a senior representative of the responsible institution.
For the purposes of the Scheme, a DPR is considered to be one or more of the following:
- an apology or a statement of acknowledgement or regret
- an acknowledgement of the impact of the abuse on the person
- the opportunity to meet with a senior official of the institution, and/or
- an assurance as to the steps the institution has taken, or will take, to prevent abuse occurring again.
All participating institutions are responsible for participating in a DPR to a person who requests it, except where it has the risk that it would cause further harm to them. Participating institutions are encouraged to draw on professional expertise to assist with the delivery of DPR.
The Scheme will provide the person's details to the responsible institution to advise the institution that a DPR is required. The person, when they are ready (no time limit applies), will need to contact the institution's contact as given in their redress offer, to arrange the DPR.
What institutions should consider when providing a DPR
When providing a DPR institutions should ensure that:
- engagement between a person and an institution should be guided by the wishes of the person
- institutions should be up front about what they are willing to offer in a DPR to a person and not offer something they cannot provide
- institutions should be responsive to a person's needs
- a DPR should be delivered by a trained official who understands the nature and impact of child sexual abuse, is culturally aware and understands the sensitive nature of a DPR, and
- institutions should welcome feedback about the direct personal response the institution offered.
DPRs should be offered in accordance with the following relevant principles that underpin restorative practice, namely:
- Participation is voluntary for the person, and they may withdraw their consent to participate at any stage of the DPR.
- The person will be given the contact details of the participating institution so they (or a representative acting on their behalf) can contact the institution to discuss their preferences, the format, location and timing of the DPR.
- All participants, (including the person, the support person if applicable, institutional representative, and facilitator if applicable) should receive a clear explanation of the intended DPR arrangements and agree to participate.
- The participating institution participates in the DPR on the basis that the person's account has been accepted and their role is to listen to the person's experience without questioning the recollection.
- All discussions for the DPR process, other than those conducted in a public place where this is the person's preference, are to be confidential unless:
- all participants agree otherwise
- disclosure to authorities is required by law, or
- the discussions reveal an actual or potential threat to human life, health or safety.
Institution does not provide direct personal response
If a participating institution receives a request for a DPR, they must take all reasonable steps to provide the person with a DPR.
Where a person informs the Scheme that an institution has not complied fully with a DPR request, the Scheme must report the case of non-compliance in the annual report for the Scheme.
Institutions will also supply general information to the Scheme on DPRs for the annual report. The Scheme's annual report will be presented by the Minister to Parliament as soon as practicable after the end of a financial year.
Defunct institutions are only required to provide a DPR if they have a representative.