26 MAY 2015 - RESPONSE TO RECENT MEDIA REPORTS REGARDING WRITTEN SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission is aware of a number of reports made in the media concerning the requirement on the submission coversheet for a Justice of the Peace to witness an oath or affirmation before a written submission is provided to the Commission.
The coversheet requires an oath or affirmation to be made and witnessed by a suitable person (either a Justice of the Peace, a solicitor or a proclaimed police officer). That oath or affirmation attests to the identity of the person making the submission, their belief in the truth of its contents and that it is appropriate to be published. The Commission requires that assurance as it intends to act on written submissions as evidence. The assurance is important because the Commission will in many cases not meet the person making the submission and because it intends to publish their submissions on the Internet.
The Commissioner is aware that all South Australians should be informed about the role and aims of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and how the community can participate in the submissions process. It also recognises the need to engage regional, remote and Aboriginal communities in an effective and culturally appropriate way.
For that reason, in the first two months of the inquiry, the Commissioner, relevant staff and an interpreter undertook a series of engagements with South Australians in rural and remote areas of the state. These included public forums which were held in the far north and far west of the state in places such as Yalata, Oak Valley, Umuwa (in the APY Lands), and Coober Pedy. Separate visits were also conducted in regional areas such as Mount Gambier, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Berri, Loxton, Renmark and Leigh Creek.
The Commission understands the concerns raised by those persons living in remote areas of the state and has responded to feedback raised during visits by engaging a Regional Engagement Manager to assist communities and people who may require additional support to contribute to the inquiry.
The Regional Engagement Manager will work closely with communities in regional and remote parts of the State and provide information, advice and culturally appropriate support to ensure that South Australians who want to make a submission to the Royal Commission are given every opportunity to do so.
Since its establishment, the Commission has said on the website, and at each of the public meetings held, that people who need assistance with the submissions process can contact the Commission if the proposed arrangements for making a submission pose any difficulty.
Further, the Commission remains committed to working closely with remote communities to identify and address potential barriers to participation in the Commission’s processes. We will be returning to remote communities to provide more information on the submission process, and will use this opportunity to further identify individuals and organisations who intend to make a submission and consider any additional support they may require.
We understand that written submissions may be impractical for some people, and on this basis the Commission is making arrangements for oral submissions to be taken. In this process we will ensure the presence of a suitable person to certify written or oral submissions in accordance with the Commission’s requirements.
The Commission has indicated in the submissions guideline that its preference is for written submissions to be typed. At no stage has it said that handwritten submissions will not be accepted. Where a handwritten submission is made the onus is on the author to ensure that it is legible.
The community’s involvement with the Commission does not end with the closing date for written submissions. The Royal Commission expects to continue to draw upon Aboriginal history and knowledge during its inquiries and will continue regular visits to regional, remote and Aboriginal communities to provide information about the Commission’s progress and outcomes.
If a person requires assistance, or for different arrangements to be made in order to make a submission, they are encouraged to contact the Commission on 08 8207 1480 or write to us at GPO Box 11043, Adelaide SA 5001.
Adam Smith – Senior Communications Officer
0428 645 493