A steady stream of horrific headlines about institutional cover-ups of child sexual abuse prompted Australian governments to finally act. Inquiries in Victoria and NSW were first established, before former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard announced a Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (“Child Abuse Royal Commission”) in 2012.
“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil,” Ms Gillard said when announcing the Child Abuse Royal Commission.
Chaired by Justice Peter McClellan, the Royal Commission into Child Abuse is charged with investigating how institutions such as churches, schools and children’s homes have handled allegations of child abuse and what needs to be done to protect children from abuse in the future.
“A Royal Commission is the highest level of inquiry in Australia. The current Royal Commission is Australia’s 130th such investigation since Federation. While a Royal Commission does not have the power to prosecute offenders, it can refer cases to the police in each state and territory”
The Child Abuse Royal Commission provides a safe and supportive environment for abuse survivors to tell their stories. For some survivors, it is the first time that their story has been believed.
Survivors can tell their stories in confidential private sessions. These are informal sessions where survivors can talk about their experiences one-on-one with a commissioner.
If the Commission then investigates the relevant institution in a public hearing, you may be asked to give evidence. As a witness, you can choose not to have your identity revealed publicly, but public hearings are more formal affairs and the media will be present.
This is where we can help. The Federal Government pays for us to prepare your statement and advise you. All of your travel and accommodation expenses are also paid for by the government. Giving evidence to the Royal Commission will not cost you anything.
Your story can provide the Commission will crucial information about what has gone wrong in decades past and how we can prevent these horrendous crimes from ever happening again.
“The Royal Commission was originally expected to wrap up at the end of 2015, but the Federal Government granted an extension and its final report is now due in December 2017.”
Giving evidence at the Royal Commission is not as intimidating as you might expect, and it can often mark a turning point in the lives of survivors. The Royal Commission is not a court and can be very flexible in accommodating your specific needs.
Thousands of child abuse survivors and their friends and family have already contacted the Royal Commission.
As of 1 February 2016, the Royal Commission Child Abuse inquiry had:
● Handled 28,402 phone calls
● Received 15,676 letters and emails
● Held 4,707 private sessions
● Referred 933 cases to authorities (including police)
While the Royal Commission is not in charge of compensation claims, it is turning up the heat on institutions and perpetrators to make just payments to survivors. It has been estimated that about 100,000 child abuse victims may be eligible for child abuse compensation in the wake of the Royal Commission.
In 2015, the Royal Commission outlined its vision for a national redress scheme to ensure a fair and equitable approach to compensating abuse survivors.
You can read our guide to giving evidence to the Royal Commission below. Call Kelso Lawyers to discuss how we may be able to support you in giving evidence at the Royal Commission and the possibility of compensation.