The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has concluded today after it was established in 2013 to investigate how organisations have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.
We want to thank the commissioners and their staff but, above all, we want to thank and recognise the courageous survivors of child sexual abuse and their families who gave evidence and told harrowing stories to the Royal Commission.
We thank them, their families and their supporters and we honour their bravery in sharing their stories, often for the first time.
The Royal Commission has validated the stories of survivors, has enabled survivors to be heard, and importantly, to be believed. For too long, crimes against our nation's’ children were covered up, or ignored.
The Australian Government thanks the Commissioners, Mr Bob Atkinson AO APM, Justice Jennifer Coate, Mr Robert Fitzgerald AM, Professor Helen Milroy, Mr Andrew Murray and Chair of the Royal Commission, the Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM, for their dedicated work over the past five years.
We also acknowledge the individuals, expert witnesses, researchers, stakeholder groups, government and non-government representatives who came forward to give evidence.
The Royal Commission has investigated where systems have failed to protect children and made recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse in institutions. During its investigation, the Royal Commission has held over 8,000 private sessions, made over 2,000 referrals to authorities (including police) and commissioned and conducted over 40 research projects.
The Royal Commission released an Interim Report in June 2014, a Working with Children Checks Report in August 2015, a Redress and Civil Litigation Report in September 2015 and a Criminal Justice Report in August 2017. In response to these reports, the Australian Government has undertaken a number of actions, including:
- making changes to how it treats limitation periods in cases where it is the defendant in a matter involving allegations of institutional child sexual abuse
- announced a Commonwealth Redress Scheme
- developing a set of nationally agreed principles to make organisations safe for children and young people
- working to develop a database to facilitate the sharing of working with children check decisions across jurisdictions.
The Turnbull Government has introduced world-leading reforms to stop registered child sex offenders from travelling overseas without permission. The reforms came into effect on 13 December 2017 and include a new Commonwealth offence (for travelling, or attempting to travel, overseas without permission) and a mechanism to cancel the passports of registered child sex offenders.
On 13 September, the Justice Minister introduced the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017 to deal with the manifestly inadequate sentences that Commonwealth child sex offenders often receive.
The Turnbull Government is committed to carefully, comprehensively and appropriately responding to the substantial work of this Royal Commission.
The Turnbull Government is announcing today it will provide $52.1 million to ensure there is support and assistance for victims throughout the process of accessing redress.
The Turnbull Government will also establish a taskforce to consider and coordinate action on the recommendations and track the progress made by all Australian governments. The taskforce will operate from January 2018 until June 2020. The Government will now carefully consider the recommendations and respond in full next year.
The Joint Select Committee on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - oversight of redress related recommendations, will be Chaired by Senator Derryn Hinch. We look forward to the Committee beginning its important work.
Survivors who need immediate assistance should contact:
- Lifeline, on 13 11 14
- 1800Respect, on 1800 737 732, or
- MensLine Australia, on 1300 789 978.
The report is available at https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/final-report