Practice Guideline 1
- Practice Guidelines
This Practice Guideline relates to the conduct of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
Practice Guideline 1 - General Guidance
- This Practice Guideline relates to the conduct of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide (Commission). It should be read in conjunction with the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) (the Act) and the terms of reference contained in the Letters Patent establishing the Commission dated 8 July 2021.
- The Commission’s Practice Guidelines seek to give those engaging with the Royal Commission assistance on practical matters and a general indication of some of the measures that the Commission will take to ensure that its work is thorough, fair and compliant with the requirements of natural justice. The Commission will strive to provide to people giving information and evidence about their personal lived experiences, and others who need or request appropriate measures for their specific circumstances, a range of ways to do so, and will take those needs into account in determining what natural justice requires of the Commission.
- This Practice Guideline sets out general guidance about the procedures the Commission will follow. The Commission has also published the following guidelines which provide guidance in relation to particular topics:
- Practice Guideline 2 – Conduct of Hearings: addressing applications for leave to appear, the giving of evidence before the Commission, cross-examination, tendering of documents, publication and access to documents, and additional services provided to support witnesses;
- Practice Guideline 3 – Legal Professional Privilege: addressing the process for claims of legal professional privilege;
- Practice Guideline 4 – Applications for Non-Publication of Documents: addressing the process for seeking non-publication of documents;
- Practice Guideline 5 – Virtual Public Hearings: addressing the conduct of hearings in a virtual environment, if required; and
- Practice Guideline 6 – Private Sessions: addressing the conduct of private sessions.
- Further practice guidelines may be published in due course.
- Where the Commission thinks it appropriate, this Practice Guideline and any future practice guidelines may at any time be varied or replaced.
- The Commission invites submissions from all people and organisations with information or documents relevant to any of the matters contained in the terms of reference.
- People who wish to provide the Commission with information relevant to the Royal Commission’s terms of reference should contact the Commission through the online form, which can be accessed on the Commission’s website. If you require assistance or are unable to use the online form, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make alternative arrangements. If you are unable to communicate by email, please phone the Commission on 1800 329 095 (between 9:00 am to 7:00 pm AEST Monday-Friday except on public holidays).
 A reference to a ‘person’ or ‘people’ in this Practice Guideline includes a body politic or body corporate as well as an individual.
- The Commission will hold a Ceremonial hearing.
- No witnesses will be called at the Ceremonial hearing and no applications for leave to appear will be heard or determined.
- As the Commission determines its program of public hearings, the program will be published on its website and in the media. Details of upcoming public hearings will include the scope of the hearings.
- The Commission will adhere to any public health orders made under the laws of the State in which it is operating. If it appears appropriate in particular circumstances, the Commission may also add masking or other protective requirements.
Document Management System
- The Commission will maintain an electronic database that will contain, among other things, copies of all materials produced to the Commission including material produced in response to a Summons, a Notice to Produce or otherwise.
- The Document Management Protocol can be found at https://defenceveteransuicide.royalcommission.gov.au/hearings/practice-….
Production of documents
- The following relates to the production of documents to the Commission, whether in answer to a Summons, a Notice to Produce or otherwise:
- The Commission will require documents to be produced electronically, unless a Summons or Notice to Produce specifies that hard copy documents are required to be produced.
- Persons producing large numbers of electronic documents should refer to the Commission’s Document Management Protocol.
- Persons producing documents in accordance with the Document Management Protocol will be provided with the Party Codes at the appropriate time (for example, at or after service of a notice to produce).
- Where a person reasonably believes they will not be able to produce documents in accordance with the Document Management Protocol, the following process applies:
- The person must contact the Solicitors Assisting the Commission at DVSRC.OSA@royalcommission.gov.au with a written request to produce documents otherwise than in accordance with the Document Management Protocol. The request must be accompanied by an explanation as to why the person believes they will not be able to comply with the Document Management Protocol.
- The Commission will consider and determine the request and communicate its decision to the person.
- If the person’s request receives the Commission’s approval:
- All electronic documents should be produced electronically in their original format (that is, in the file format in which they exist on the system or systems of the person producing the documents). For example, Microsoft Outlook emails are to be produced as .msg files and Microsoft Word documents are to be produced as .doc or .docx files.
- Persons producing electronic documents must ensure they produce all parts of the document. For example, where the electronic file is an email chain, all parts of that chain should be produced, and where the electronic file is an email with an attachment, both the email and its attachment should be produced.
- Where an electronic copy does not already exist, hard copy material should be scanned and rendered directly to Portable Document Format (PDF). Such renderings should be machine-readable and word-searchable;
- If the person’s request does not receive the Commission’s approval, the person must produce documents in accordance with the Document Management Protocol.
- Persons who have queries about complying with the Document Management Protocol generally should contact the Solicitors Assisting the Commission at DVSRC.OSA@royalcommission.gov.au.
Production of information and statements in writing
- The following relates to the production of information and statements in writing to the Commission in response to a Notice to Give Information or a Statement:
- Where the Commission requires information or a statement in written form, a notice will be issued. A person who receives a notice is to address the matters detailed in the Schedule to the notice by the time and date specified in the notice.
- The Commission will require information and statements in writing to be produced electronically and in accordance with the Document Management Protocol.
 See s 2(3C) of the Act.
Production of expert reports, witness statements and post-hearing submissions
- Expert reports, witness statements and post-hearing submissions shall be produced to the Commission in accordance with the Document Management Protocol.
- Media Guidelines for public hearings will be published on the Commission’s website. Members of the media should refer to those guidelines for further information on publication and access to evidence.
- Nothing in this Practice Guideline should be taken as limiting the Commission’s powers, whether at the request of any person or on the Commission’s own initiative, to treat any material or information as confidential and to take any steps in respect of the preservation of such confidentiality.