THE CONSULTATION ON A NATIONAL CONFIDENTIAL FORUM
19. The proposed purpose and scope of the National Confidential Forum is rooted firmly in the experience of TTBH. This pilot showed the positive benefit to people placed in Quarriers Village as children, and their families, of participating in a confidential forum which offered acknowledgement of their experiences. TTBH also demonstrated the value of this approach in informing policy and practice responses, specifically to prevent the abuse of children placed in residential care in the future.
20. The National Confidential Forum will give adults the opportunity to recount, in confidence, their experiences of being in care as children to a non-judgemental and independent panel. The intention is that participation in the Forum will contribute to an improvement in the health and wellbeing of the people who participate, through the direct acknowledgement of their experiences, including experiences of abuse and neglect.
21. The independent report of TTBH, written by the Chair of the Pilot Forum, Tom Shaw, contains a series of recommendations, six of which are concerned with the establishment and operation of a National Confidential Forum. The Scottish Government accepted all six recommendations, including that legislation should be introduced to underpin it, thereby enabling it to function effectively, including being able to offer protections to participants.
22. On 23 July 2012, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on the proposal to establish a "forum giving adult survivors abused in residential care as children the opportunity to describe their experiences to people who understand about such abuse in residential care." The consultation document set out ten questions in relation to the proposal that a national forum be established following TTBH, including questions as to the scope of the forum and protections and support for participants.
23. The National Confidential Forum Reference Group has offered valuable input into the consultation document, including considerations important to the effective implementation of the Forum.
24. The consultation document was sent to over 500 organisations and individuals and an advert was taken out in Third Force News, highlighting the consultation to voluntary and community sector organisations. A copy of the consultation document was also sent to all members of the Reference Group and organisations in receipt of funding under the SurvivorScotland programme fund.
25. In parallel, members of the Scottish Government SurvivorScotland team organised and attended four consultation events, at which a total of 54 attendees participated as follows:-
- Dumfries on 28 August 2012 - 3 participants attended
- Inverness on 28 August 2012 - 5 participants attended
- Edinburgh on 29 August 2012 - 20 participants attended
- Glasgow on 4 September 2012 - 26 participants attended.
26. Participation in the consultation events was clearly difficult for some people who had experienced abuse and neglect in care. Despite that, stakeholders engaged as fully as possible and showed an enthusiasm and commitment to work with the Scottish Government in taking forward the establishment of the National Confidential Forum. This willingness, particularly on the part of survivors, has been particularly important in developing the policy to create the Forum.
27. Written summaries of each of the consultation events were drafted by the members of Scottish Government staff present at those events, the content of which has been incorporated into the consultation analysis set out in this report.
28. The Scottish Government recognises the central importance of directly engaging people placed in care as children, in particular people who have experienced abuse, in the consultation process. To that end, a number of survivors of abuse in care agreed to take part in a group specifically to ensure that the voice of survivors was heard in the consultation process. The Survivor Stakeholder Group was convened and facilitated by a person independent of the Scottish Government. Several meetings of the Group were held and all of the consultation questions were discussed in some depth, with views submitted to the Scottish Government.
29. In addition, the opportunity for one to one and small group meetings was offered by the Scottish Government to individuals and organisations to ensure a range and depth of participation in the consultation. A member of the Survivor Scotland Team met with five people individually to go through the consultation document and to support them to submit a response. Meetings with those persons were held in Dundee, Glasgow, Oban and Dunoon.
30. Stakeholder engagement in this consultation process, to be effective, has had to be informed by, and sensitive to, the needs of people who were placed in care as children. Ensuring that information is accessible and proposals and concepts explained fully has been an important consideration in the consultation process, as has been the planning of consultation events themselves. ICSSS was also present at each of the consultation events to enable people to access support, if required.
31. Feedback on the consultation events at the National Confidential Forum Reference Group was very positive, with participants appreciative of the measures put in place to support engagement and discussion in the consultation on the development of the Forum.
32. All of the published responses to this consultation can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.
Email: Julie Muir
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