The Royal Commission did many things for Australia.
It shocked us, disgusted us, and pushed action and responsibility onto institutions and governments who were happy to sweep the issue of child sexual abuse under the rug.
It took five long years to lift up the rug and encourage thousands of victims and witnesses to come forward.
Five years of delving deeper, talking to those who were ignored, belittled and abused further for speaking out.
The commissioners and their staff learned about abuse, spoke to heads of institutions about the very organisations they ran, and made over four hundred recommendations to ensure no child will ever be swept under the rug again.
The Royal Commission was by no means a cure-all for the epidemic of child abuse which swept (and continues to sweep) across Australia.
It is a starting point, a mere light shining under the rug. The numbers below are a heartbreaking reminder that people in positions of power will abuse children when they are in a position to do so with minimal consequences.
Children were allegedly abused in over 4000 institutions.
Based on over 8000 private sessions, over 60% of victims were male.
The Royal Commission examined over 1.2 million documents in their research.
41,770 calls were made. 25,774 emails and letters were received.
The Commission made 2,562 referrals to the police.
There are tens of thousands of victims in Australia, but as many as 60% never disclose their abuse. Survivors who spoke in a private session took on average 23.9 years to come forward.
Over 56% of victims who came forward were over the age of fifty. The youngest victim at a private session was just seven years old. The oldest was 93.
Of the thousands of private sessions, it was discovered girls were abused at a younger age than boys.
85.4% of survivors (in the private sessions) were abused on multiple occasions. The average duration of the abuse was 2.2 years.
58.6% of survivors were abused in an institution managed by a religious organisation.
61.8% of these individuals were abused in an institution managed by the Catholic Church. These individuals accounted for 36.2% of all survivors who came to a private session.
The ongoing child sexual abuse inflicted by the Catholic Church is shocking. View their disturbing timeline of abuse.
The ongoing effects of the abuse impacted every area of their lives, from mental health issues, to involving themselves in crime. 10.4% of survivors were in prison at the time of their session.
Many family members spoke to the Commission on behalf of family members, and spoke of how the abuse impacted their relationships and families. Abuse does not just affect one person – the effects can filter on through generations, particularly in families where the abused committed suicide as a result of the abuse.
22.6% of adults who disclosed their abuse thought they would never be believed.
8.2% of survivors said they didn’t realise the behaviours were abusive, which is why they didn’t come forward sooner.
Over 20% of survivors (both those who had disclosed their abuse as a child or as an adult) said they feared retribution, preventing them from coming forward sooner. When you look at the abusers, it’s clear who held the upper hand in the situation.
The abuse committed by teachers in both the public and private sector reveal a sickening betrayal of trust. 31% of survivors speaking in private sessions told the Commission about abuse in schools, with 71.8% of those survivors being abused in religious schools.
The numbers are just a small percentage of the survivors in Australia.
There are so many survivors of abuse walking among us. If as many as 60% of abuse survivors never come forward, these numbers represent a minute proportion of adults who suffered significant trauma as children.
This isn’t good enough.
Australia – now is the time to stand up and make your voices heard. The Royal Commission may be over, but the redress scheme is still not live. We need a proper, effective redress scheme so the thousands of victims can achieve some form of justice.
If you were abused by a member of the clergy, an institution, the education department or the Australian Defence Force, please get in touch. Our team would like to help you. Now is the time to come forward and speak out.