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By Alex KohnMatt Gerathy & Nicholas RegenerMakinson d’Apice, Solicitors, Sydney

The Royal Commission comes in the wake of serious issues that have plagued the aged care sector in recent times and will be directed to inquire into all forms of Commonwealth-funded aged care, with the commissioners required to produce an interim report by the end of October 2019, and a final report by the end of April 2020.

Following our first article on the Royal Commission (insert link to first article) in this article, our team covers what Aged Care Providers can expect in Phase 2 – in the months leading up to the Royal Commission and Phase 3 – during the Royal Commission.

Phase 2 – preliminary legal and administrative issues to be considered over the next few months

  • What is the current state of your record-keeping?
  • Do you require an archivist or other additional resources to assist in locating relevant historical records?
  • To what extent are the records paper based, on microfiche or in soft copy?
  • How far back in time do your records extend?
  • In what state/condition are those records?
  • Are those records in a safe and secure location?
  • Can those records be safely preserved for the next few years in case required by the Royal Commission?
  • Can those records be photocopied, saved in soft copy and indexed?
  • Ensure that none of your relevant records which currently exist are misplaced or destroyed between now and the conclusion of the Royal Commission.
  • Are prior policies and procedures of your organisation preserved? Who was responsible for compliance with those policies and procedures at various times in the past?
  • Are these people still available to assist you?
  • Have you previously conducted investigations into any allegations any misconduct or breach of regulations?
  • Have you rectified any breaches identified in prior audits of your organisation?
  • Have you maintained records of any complaints made against your organisation?
  • How were those complaints or claims dealt with at the time?

Phase 3 – during Royal Commission

  • Who in your organisation has sufficient knowledge of historical matters to properly brief a spokesperson on relevant issues?
  • How is your organisation going to deal with media interest?
  • Will you have a media person attending each day of the public hearings?
  • Will you have another representative of your organisation (eg pastoral; administrative person) attend during each day of the public hearings?
  • Will you have a legal representative attending each day of the public hearings?
  • How will you communicate your ongoing message to relevant stakeholders?
  • Do you have a clear plan so that the usual work of your organisation is not unduly impeded whilst the Royal Commission is in place?
  • In particular, human resources will need to be carefully considered so as to cover for staff who may be heavily involved during the Royal Commission.
  • Does your organisation have adequate internal media/issues management advice or is an external consultant required?
  • Counselling/stress management services may need to be provided to staff heavily involved in the Commission.

It’s important to be prepared for any approaches of the Royal Commission. Organisations are typically not given much time to produce documents and it can take time to review and collate.

Expertise in Royal Commission Work

Makinson d’Apice has considerable experience in Royal Commission and Inquiry work. Our firm has advised clients on how to prepare for the Royal Commission by:

  • assisting in the collation and analysis of documents;
  • preparation of witness statements;
  • liasing with Royal Commission staff;
  • representing clients at private and public hearings of the Royal Commission;
  • preparation of written submissions to the Royal Commission

Our partners Alex Kohn and Matt Gerathy were heavily involved in the Cunneen Commission of Inquiry in 2013 as well as the recently completed Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which ran from 2013 until 2017.

Royal Commissions are unique in the way evidence is compiled and public hearings are conducted. Preparation for and attendance at a Royal Commission requires adroit and delicate handling, with appropriate respect for privacy and confidentiality.

If you require a safe pair of hands please contact us direct for advice and support.

Contact the author directly by email or by telephone.

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