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 was 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 provided a safe and supportive environment for abuse survivors to tell their stories. For some survivors, it was the first time that their story has been believed.
Survivors told their stories in confidential private sessions. These were informal sessions where survivors talked about their experiences one-on-one with a commissioner.
“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 contacted the Royal Commission.
As of 15 December 2017, the Royal Commission Child Abuse inquiry had:
● Handled 41,770 phone calls
● Received 25,774 letters and emails
● Held 8,013 private sessions
● Referred 2,559 cases to authorities (including police)
While the Royal Commission has no power over paying compensation, the Commission modelling indicates around 60,000 survivors would be eligible for a claim under a national redress scheme. 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.
Were you abused by the clergy or an institution as a child? Kelso Lawyers would encourage anyone who was abused by the clergy or an institution to get in touch with our team today.