All victims should be able to tell their account to the Royal Commission and have it placed on record. This is a non-negotiable requirement. There is no point in the enquiry otherwise. Any attempts to subvert this process should be met with strong opposition, including even picketing.
While there are other matters the commission must consider, it would be reasonable to expect that, say, 2/3rds of the time should be given over to victims’ accounts. Allowing for the fact that there are six commissioners, sitting 40 hours per week (come on, most people DO work 40 hours!), and 2 of the 3 years given to victims, with an hour for each – that would mean about 25,000 victims could be heard. If there were 30,000 people who wanted to be heard, then the commission could be extended for another year. There is provision for the time extension in the terms of reference.
Naturally, enough, early indications from the chief commissioner are that a sampling process will be adopted, based on a time-limitation argument. This is plainly wrong. The main problem with it is that ALL accounts are important to the individual victims. Not hearing them is yet another affront and constitutes a re-victimisation by saying that their case is, basically, irrelevant.
The other main problem relates to the simple facts of the theory behind statistical analysis. Too small a sample does not give an accurate view of the whole.
While one must assume that those running the commission have the most ethical motivations, one cannot be really sure of this. An earlier posting emphatically questions the impartiality of at least one of the six commissioners. This then raises the statistical problem of sampling bias, either conscious or unconscious. For example, some may argue that an equal number of accounts should come from the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts, but that ignores the fact that the former incidents may be very much greater than the latter.
Anyway, it would be a very brave and excessively confident person who could claim to be able to decide between accounts as to which is worthy of consideration by the commission. The only solution, if any credibility at all is to remain, is to provide access to ALL who wish to give their account. Watch this space if the Royal Commission does not agree with this principle.
TOMORROW: Public versus private hearings
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)