ANNEX A: EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
The public sector equality duty requires the Scottish Government to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice. Seven equality impact assessment questions were also included as part of the consultation document. Summaries of the responses to each of these questions are detailed below.
Q1: Do you think the creation of a National Confidential Forum will have a disproportionally negative impact on particular groups of people in our target audience?
A small minority of respondents answered yes to this question. The principal concern expressed by respondents related to the perceived adverse effects on participants' mental health of participating in the Forum.
Q2: Do you think the creation of a National Confidential Forum will have a positive impact on particular groups of people in our target audience?
A majority of respondents agreed that the creation of the National Confidential Forum will have a positive impact, with no respondents disagreeing.
Respondents commented that the main benefit would be in terms of improving the health and wellbeing of participants including increasing self-esteem and giving survivors and other former residents of care the opportunity to be heard. Other benefits included raising awareness of institutional abuse against children, offering the opportunity for participants to disclose abuse allegations to the police and reviewing current arrangements for vulnerable groups. The importance of support was noted by a number of these respondents. One respondent stressed the need to include all forms of institutional childcare, including boarding schools for deaf children.
Q3: What negative impacts do you think the National Confidential Forum will have on a particular group?
Twenty two respondents provided comments in reply to this question. The importance of support was highlighted in many of these responses. Respondents commented that all kinds of institutional care should be included within the scope of the National Confidential Forum as otherwise people with disabilities might be missed out. The importance of an accessible Forum able to deal with communication support needs was noted. The difficulties associated with abuse in a religious context were raised and reference made to "cultural issues" that might make it difficult to disclose such abuse. Two respondents referred to the negative impact on groups that were not included, such as those who were in foster care. One respondent noted the need to consider the particular needs of both the old and the young in operating the Forum and also possible sensitivities around participants who were gay, lesbian or bi-sexual.
Q4: What positive impacts do you think the National Confidential Forum will have on a particular group?
Twenty seven respondents provided comments in reply to this question. Most of them concerned the benefits to former residents and survivors of abuse in residential care as children and repeated what had already been said at Questions 1-3 in the main part of the consultation document. One respondent felt that people with learning disabilities might benefit particularly from being given the chance to describe their experiences in residential settings.
Q5: What changes would you suggest to reduce any negative impact you have identified?
Eighteen respondents provided comments in reply to this question. The main suggestions were about the importance of support and accessible information for people interested in taking part. Two participants referred to the potential stigma for children and young people in care now and the need for sensitive national publicity about the Forum. One respondent considered that the Forum should include all children looked after away from home and another commented that it should be part of the remedies proposed for survivors by the Scottish Human Rights Commission in its Framework.
Q6: What changes would you suggest to enhance any positive impacts you have identified?
Seventeen respondents provided comments in reply to this question. The major focus of these comments was on ensuring that support was in place throughout the process. Some respondents also noted the importance of positive, sensitive media reporting about what the Forum was designed to do and widespread distribution of the findings. Two respondents considered that other opportunities to "access justice" needed to be available to survivors.
Q7: Are there any significant issues we need to consider in relation to: Age, Disability, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Race, Religion and Belief?
Several respondents noted that older people were less likely to disclose abuse and could be particularly fearful about this. Other respondents considered that people who had been in care more recently might feel stigmatised and therefore the Forum needed to adopt a positive approach to publicity about its operations.
Several respondents commented that large numbers of survivors of abuse in institutional childcare had mental health problems. Others noted that children who have disabilities might be particularly vulnerable to abuse in care. Suggestions were made by some respondents about what could be done to make the Forum accessible to those with disabilities, including a strong focus on communication support needs and a sensitive understanding approach to each participant.
Some respondents commented that men were less likely to disclose than women and that the experience of abuse was not the same for men and women.
One respondent noted this as a "highly sensitive issue" and stressed the importance of confidentiality for lesbian, gay or bi-sexual participants. A stakeholder who contributed to one of the consultation events felt that young males could be particularly badly affected by 'same sex' abuse.
There were no issues raised in relation to gender identity or transgender people.
One respondent and an attendee at one of the consultation events noted that there could be particular issues for the Scottish Gypsy Traveller community who had experienced abuse in residential care. Other respondents referred to the sense of shame over abuse that they thought was associated with particular cultures (but without specifying particular communities) and the stigma that might arise where abuse in such settings was disclosed.
Religion and Belief
Five participants noted the adverse impact on spiritual wellbeing that might result from abuse which took place in a religious setting. Several also expressed concern about the potentially negative impact on religious organisations that revelations from the Forum might cause. One respondent considered that survivors who had been abused in a religious context might experience a strong sense of shame.
Impact on Other Groups
Other groups that might be particularly affected by the Forum were identified as people currently in hospital and in care homes, homeless people and prisoners who were survivors of abuse in institutional childcare. One respondent also identified people experiencing multiple oppression, such as the impact of historical abuse and poverty.
Email: Julie Muir
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