Page 184 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 16 February 2011

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worth noting that I prosecuted this matter in private with the commissioner in considerable correspondence over December and January. During that time I repeatedly asked the commissioner whether he had “honoured the confidentiality” of the conversation he had had with my constituent, X.

The second breach, and again without authority from my constituent, was in response to my third letter to the commissioner. The commissioner has never answered my specific question, but in his final written response he revealed X’s name to me. The letter was not marked “private” or “confidential” and so amounts to public disclosure.

Until that point, I did not know X’s full identity and nor did my staff. Clearly, the commissioner made assumptions which he should not have made. Clearly, he should have checked his assumptions, and he failed to do so. I might add that, even if he was right in his assumption that I knew this person’s identity, he still had no right to reveal it in writing. So on two separate occasions the commissioner failed to honour the confidentiality of his informant.

What about the misleading conduct that I have mentioned? In his letter of 14 December, which I have tabled, the commissioner referred to the service delivery standards of the Human Rights Commission and that he had not “acted contrary to these standards”. So I asked the commissioner on 17 December for a copy of those standards. In reply, I was advised that the standards were under review and would be available in two or three months. As you can imagine, I am not interested in a prospective set of standards; I was interested in the standards that were in force at the time of the subject incident.

The Children and Young People Commissioner could not produce the Human Rights Commission service delivery standards, as he referred to them in his letter to me; he could only produce the 2006 commitment to service statement by the Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner. In doing so, he said that this statement—and I quote from his letter of January 2011—“does not apply to the whole of the Commission”. Nonetheless it appears to me that the Children and Young People Commissioner was seeking to rely on the commitment to service statement and in doing so he failed to meet those requirements.

He failed in two instances: firstly on “we will maintain the confidentiality of your records”—this is what the service standards say to clients who come to the health services complaints tribunal—and, secondly, “we will seek your authority to obtain information or discuss your complaint with other parties”. It is clear that the Children and Young People Commissioner complied with neither of these commitments.

And how did X respond to the revelation that the commissioner had disclosed their name to me? The actions of the commissioner in this instance alone show that he is not fit to conduct this inquiry. As a result of the actions of the commissioner, the staff at Bimberi do not have confidence that they can take their issues to the commissioner and have them dealt with appropriately. The clear feedback from staff and their families since the inquiry began formally is that the inquiry is about the kids at Bimberi and not the staff.

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