By Julian Bajkowski
It would have to qualify as the toughest call centre and counselling contracts in Australia.
After months of behind the scenes preparations, the federal Attorney General’s Department on Thursday morning started officially looking for staff to pick-up the phone to answer the some of the hardest calls thousands of Australians will ever make in their lives – dialling the number to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Although exact details remain firmly and necessarily under wraps, AG’s has issued a request for tender for Call Intake and Support Services for the long awaited official inquiry that seeks to give some acknowledgement and closure to the scores of people whose childhoods and lives were shattered by crimes that many believe were persistently covered-up by churches and authorities.
The gravity and magnitude of the task ahead is underscored by call for a service provider that can provide staff that can field the calls, provide information to callers, capture crucial information and also refer clients to “related services and other sources of assistance.”
The tender also says that as part of the service, AG’s is looking for “a relationship coordinator function to individual Clients, as per criteria agreed with the Commission.”
But behind the dry language of procurement, the fact remains that many of the conversations held over an otherwise innocuous 1800 number will be so emotionally charged and difficult that they demand a special level of care for both Commission staff as well as those calling in.
A big part of the tender is just putting together people to be on the ground during hearings to help those involved in the Commission.
The brief calls for the successful service provider “to provide counselling, staff welfare and recruitment support services (Support Services) for those working on the Commission.
These include “telephone counselling support to Commissioners and Commission staff”, the provision of “counsellors as requested to attend hearings and sessions of the Commission” and to “provide onsite counselling support to witnesses and Clients in attendance, as well as to staff of the Commission.”
Just how emotionally and psychologically confronting the task of the Commission will be is illustrated by a requirement for “proactive welfare support to the Commissioners and Commission staff to assist in ensuring their ongoing mental health, resilience and wellbeing.”
The AG’s has also stipulated that the service provider help screen applicants for jobs at the Commission through psychological testing to help determine “their suitability for the position.”
Confidentiality is clearly another imperative. The AG’s says that “entities” wanting to obtain the Request for Tender documents must first complete a “Non-Disclosure Deed Poll which restricts how they may use information contained in the RFT.”
It also specifically states that it retains the power to refuse to provide copies of the RFT it feels are not genuine.
“The initial term of the Services is anticipated to be from 3 October 2013 until 31 December 2015,” the documents say.
An industry briefing for interested parties will be held in Sydney at 10.30am on Thursday 6th June 2013.
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