A Royal Commission Tip Sheet

Key tips from participants of the Dart Centre's daylong forum "Reporting Responsibly into the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse."

“Speaking out is frequently daunting and potentially overwhelming for survivors (who) need to overcome the shame, stigma and silence which have often been compounded by betrayals… It is important to be sensitive, open and honest when interviewing survivors to help them feel as safe as possible, and to support and acknowledge their courage, strength and resilience.” – Dr Kathy Kezelman, president Adults Surviving Child Abuse.

“Look after yourself as well as the victims you come across. If you continue to cover this story you may well find yourself increasingly distressed about the stories you are hearing and increasingly angry about the neglect and complicity shown by institutions. Have a break from it. Have an ear to bend – a confidant or a professional support person.” – Peter Gogarty, survivor.

“I would encourage media representatives to be respectful and friendly. To enhance (survivors’) experience of talking about their abuse, you might consider the following points: Greet them, introduce yourself and say who you work for; acknowledge that they are victims; invite rather than bully or coerce; if you get a knockback, leave a card and a smile rather than a scowl.” – Pat Feenan, parent of a survivor.

Avoid ‘demonising’ offenders. “It needs to be clearly understood that this demonising – ‘name and shame’ – tactic actually raises the level of risk. It may satisfy some innate and satisfying urge to punish and seek revenge, but it does nothing to protect future victims.” – Gerard Webster, psychologist.

“Remove your ego. It’s about their truth and your vehicle and you have to make sure it’s as truthful and respectful as it can be.” – Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald.