Update – Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM, Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, recently addressed the National Council of Churches Conference in Melbourne on Tuesday 16 May, 2017.

Within his address, he delivered encouraging news about the progress of the Commission. A brief summary of some of the points mentioned are set out below.

  • Since September 2015, the Royal Commission had held a further 25 public hearings, bringing the total number of public hearings to 57.
  • The Commissioners have now held more than 6,700 private sessions, and these sessions are ongoing.

Analysis of the information given to the Commission by 6,302 of those survivors shows:

(i) 32% reported abuse in a government institution

(ii) 10% reported abuse in a secular institution

(iii) 59% reported abuse in a religious institution

  • 2,025 matters have now been referred to authorities, almost always the police, with a view to the possible prosecution of an offender.

There have been 127 prosecutions commenced as a result of these referrals. (However, the volume of referrals is so great it will take some time before all the matters are processed and prosecutions commenced.)

  • On 4 November 2016 the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, announced the establishment of the Commonwealth Redress Scheme. In that announcement Minister Porter said that ‘any state, any territory, any church, any charity, who has responsibility in this area will be able to opt-in to the scheme’. Institutions would opt-in on the basis that they fund the cost of their own eligible redress claims.

(The Commissioners understand that many churches and religious groups have indicated that they are positively disposed to the Commonwealth’s scheme.)

In his closing remarks, Justice McClellan implores the continuance of the Royal’s Commission’s work in the Australian Community at the conclusion of it’s program, to ensure we are vigilant in protecting our most valuable and most vulnerable community members, our children-

“I have previously said that the Royal Commission’s work has changed the conversation about child sexual abuse in Australia. As the Commission moves towards the completion of its work in December this year the task which is posed to all of you is to continue to ensure that the institution to which you belong takes part in that conversation. Institutions must make the changes necessary to ensure, as far as may be possible, children are not abused in the future.”

To access the full transcript of the address made by Justice McClellan, please follow this link www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au