Outcomes of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse

For the last five years, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard emotionally confronting and horrifying stories from over 1,200 witnesses about thousands of instances of sexual abuse of children across Australia. In December 2017, the Royal Commission handed its final report to the Governor- General.

What did the Royal Commission do?

The decision to establish a Royal Commission was announced by the then Prime Minster, the Hon. Julia Gillard, MP, on 12 November 2012.  After years of public pressure and increasing allegations of sexual abuse of children across many areas of Australian society, the Government took action to enquire into the issue of sexual abuse of children within institutional settings.

Throughout its inquiry, the Commission heard about a wide range of institutions where children had been abused. These included:

  • Childcare services;
  • Schools (including religious schools);
  • Health and allied services;
  • Youth detention;
  • Historical residential care (including facilities operated by religious institutions);
  • Contemporary out-of-home-care;
  • Religious institutions;
  • Family and youth support services;
  • Supported accommodation;
  • Sporting, recreational and other clubs;
  • Youth employment;
  • The armed forces.

The Commission’s work was broken up into three ‘pillars’: personal accounts of survivors (provided in a private session or in writing); public hearings; and research and policy work.

The Commission spoke with 7,981 survivors in private sessions. Some of these stories formed the basis of public hearings, where survivors publicly shared their experience of being sexually abused and the lifelong impact this has had for them.

The Commission has referred 2,575 matters to authorities (including police) for further action and potential prosecution of the perpetrators of abuse brought to light throughout the inquiry. Some prosecutions are already on foot.

The average age of victims when first abused was 10.4 years old, and 60% of abuse was episodic, meaning that there were several instances of abuse over many years following the first instance of abuse. Around 80% of survivors told the Commission they had experienced emotional maltreatment by the perpetrator in addition to the sexual abuse, and 60% also experienced physical abuse.

What next?

The Government will now consider the 409 recommendations made in the Report which aim to make institutions safer for children.

A key outcome is the recommendation for a national redress scheme. The Commission has recommended the appropriate level of redress should be a minimum payment of $10,000, a maximum payment of $200,000 for the most severe case, and an average payment of $65,000.

The Royal Commission has churned some deeply held wounds for many Australians, and indeed people all around the world, who have closely followed the progress of this Royal Commission.

Be assured you are not alone, and there are many options for advice and support available including:

1800 Respect – Call 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800respect.org.au 24/7 telephone and online crisis support for anyone in Australia who has experienced or been impacted by sexual assault, or domestic or family violence.

Lifeline – Call 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention.

Our lawyers are also available for a discrete and confidential discussion about your legal situation. We have a longstanding association with the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence and Heidi Austin, Lawyer at MBA Lawyers was previously engaged as a Commonwealth Government lawyer in relation to the Royal Commission.

Article Authored by Heidi Austin, Lawyers at MBA Lawyers.