Family liaison a priority for Chair of Royal Commission
14 June 2011
Ensuring the needs of families of those who died as a result of the 22 February earthquake are met and providing them with access to good, timely information is a major priority for the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.
Justice Mark Cooper, Chair of the Royal Commission says engagement with the affected families is a major focus over the next few weeks. “Families can be confident that the Commission will ensure that all available information about the reasons buildings collapsed will be made public, without the need for any initiatives by the families themselves.
Executive Director of the Commission, Justine Gilliland, said several initiatives will be rolled out shortly to support this.
“The Commission is writing to families later this week inviting them to meet with the Commission, if they want to, and seeking their views on how they would like to receive communications from the Commission. An information brochure providing relevant information for families will accompany the letter.
“We are recruiting a Family and Community Liaison Officer to support the interaction families can have with the Commission. Their role will be to liaise with families and listen to their concerns. The Officer will also be an advocate for the families by ensuring there is a link to Commissioners and to the lawyers assisting the Commission.
Justice Cooper says a key part of the role of these two independent lawyers, including a QC, is to ensure a fair process and that all interests are taken into account, including those of families.
“We recognise that a good number of family members are not based in Canterbury so we will ensure that wherever families are located that they have opportunities to engage with us.
Justice Cooper says families who lost relatives and friends in the 22 February earthquake can be assured that there will be a very thorough inquiry into the failure of buildings that resulted in loss of life. “The Commissioners can only imagine the sense of loss and grief families are experiencing. We are determined to support families, and provide them with opportunities to share their views, through the life of the Royal Commission,” he says.
The Royal Commission operates independently of government but receives administrative assistance from the Department of Internal Affairs. Information about the Commission of Inquiry, including the full terms of reference can be found at http://canterbury.royalcommission.govt.nz
Media Contact and request to interview Justice Cooper
Senior Communications Advisor
The Department of Internal Affairs
Phone 027 440 2667