If you share your story with the Royal Commission in writing, online or in audio-visual format, we will not publish your information unless you want us to. If you do want us to publish your account of your experience, we can publish it without naming or identifying you.
If you do not want your information or your identity to be shared with anyone outside of the Royal Commission, we can protect your identity and the information you share with us until the Royal Commission ends in April 2022 (when its Final Report is due).
This is because under the current law, the Royal Commission can only guarantee confidentiality while the Royal Commission exists. However, the Royal Commission intends to ask the Government to amend the law so that your information is protected indefinitely, even after the Royal Commission ends. This, however, is a matter for the Australian Parliament to decide.
If you are worried about your identity or the information you have provided being disclosed after the Royal Commission has ended, you may be able to share your experience with a Commissioner in a private session.
Anything you tell us in connection with, or during, a private session can be kept confidential even after the Royal commission ends. It is protected from disclosure by law and cannot be subpoenaed or disclosed under Freedom of Information legislation.
At this stage, the Royal Commission does not know how many people might want a private session, so we cannot promise that everyone wanting a private session will be able to get one. More information about private sessions will be available shortly.
Confidentiality clauses and defamation
You might be worried that any information that you give to the Royal Commission, including in a written, online or audio-visual submission, is in breach of a non-disclosure or confidentiality clause in an agreement you have signed, or is defamatory. If so, you can ask the Royal Commission to issue you with what is called a 'notice to produce' your submission.
If the Royal Commission has issued you with a notice to produce (or if you give evidence before the Royal Commission in a public hearing), it is a criminal offence for any person to injure you, cause you disadvantage, or for your employer to take action against you because you have given information to the Royal Commission.
It is therefore against the law for a person to sue you for breach of a confidentiality clause because you gave your information to the Royal Commission in response to a notice. The law also says that any information you provide to the Royal Commission in response to a notice issued by the Royal Commission cannot be used as evidence against you in any civil or criminal proceedings in Australia.
Retribution and 'whistleblowers'
We understand that people with disability may be concerned about retribution, for example if they make a submission that is critical of an employer or an accommodation provider.
We take this concern very seriously because such retribution can be a criminal offence. If this happens to you because you have provided us with information in response to a notice to produce, or if you have given evidence in a public hearing, please tell us. The Royal Commission will then investigate your report and, if needed, refer it to the Police.
You can get free legal advice to help you understand your options in sharing your experience with the Royal Commission. Please call 1800 771 800 (9:15am-5:15pm AEDT Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays).