Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
On 11 January 2013 the Commonwealth Government established a national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia.
The Royal Commission is investigating sexual abuse of children while under the care of institutions and organisations and how they responded.
It is examining past and current child sexual abuse to make findings and recommendations on how organisations with responsibility for children can improve the way they manage and respond to claims of sexual abuse in the future.
Institutions and organisations that are the subject of inquiry at the Royal Commission include private and government organisations such as schools, churches, sporting clubs, children’s services, orphanages and foster care.
The Royal Commission is investigating how institutions and governments can better protect children, how they can achieve best practice in reporting and responding to incidents, and how to address the impact of child sexual abuse.
The aim of the Royal Commission is to understand what has happened in the past to stop it happening in the future.
More information is available on the Royal Commission website.
How does the Royal Commission work?
The Royal Commission is hearing directly from people about their experience of child sexual abuse in institutions. This can be put in writing, given over the phone or given in private informal meetings.
It is also receiving evidence, including from institutions, in formal public hearings and is inviting people to tell their stories and provide relevant information.
Sharing your story – how to engage with the Royal Commission
If you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child while under the care of an institution, recently or in the past, you can share your story with the Royal Commission. Sharing your story can assist the Commissioners to understand what happened to children while in an institution, to help protect children in the future.
The Royal Commission provides the opportunity for survivors to be heard. Sharing your story with the Royal Commission may be the first time the abuse is confronted and talked about. When it comes to sharing your story the Royal Commission will assist you every step of the way.
You can tell your story to the Royal Commission in a number of ways. You may want to make a written statement, talk to an officer of the Royal Commission, talk directly with a Royal Commissioner in a private session or make a submission about how to change things in the future, for example through better reporting and how to better support children.
The Royal Commission’s assessment and inquiry team will determine if your story falls within its terms of reference and discuss arranging a private session. You can take a support person with you to a private session and share your story in person with a Commissioner.
The Commission will put you in touch with professionals such as counsellors or groups that provide ongoing support to survivors of child sexual abuse and their families, whether or not your story falls within their terms of reference.
You can contact the Royal Commission by calling 1800 099 340, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to GPO Box 5283, Sydney NSW 2001.
Redress and compensation for survivors of child sexual abuse
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has revealed extensive sexual abuse of children in Australian institutions. The responsible institution should be held to account and survivors of abuse should consider whether to seek financial redress or compensation.
The Royal Commission is investigating the potential ways that survivors of institutional child sexual abuse could receive redress. They have received submissions and will publish a final report about a potential redress scheme in the middle of 2015. The report is expected to make recommendations to Government about establishing a redress scheme.
You may also have a legal entitlement to claim compensation by bringing a civil claim against the institution responsible for the abuse.
Compensation claims can be complex. Whether there is a body that can be sued and whether the usual time limits for bringing a claim can be extended are often issues that need to be carefully considered.
Turner Freeman has successfully acted for clients in claims for compensation against institutions including schools and church bodies. If you have suffered from abuse contact us so that we can talk to you about potential entitlements.
Revisiting abuse can be confronting. The experienced lawyers at Turner Freeman aim to make the legal process as easy as possible.
If you, a family member or a friend have experienced child sexual abuse in an institutional context, contact Turner Freeman to discuss available legal options.
We will investigate your claim and advise you on a No Win, No Fee basis.