Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse underway

January 11, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.A spokesman for the Attorney-General’s office told J-Wire: “The commissioners will begin immediately with a telephone hook-up scheduled for Monday and a face to face meeting for Wednesday of next week.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

The Prime Minister has issued the following statementy.

“On my advice, today the Governor-General has appointed a six‑member Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Child sexual abuse is an evil crime.

Anyone who has ever suffered child abuse deserves to have their voices heard and their claims investigated.

The Royal Commission will inquire into how institutions with a responsibility for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse and related matters.

It will investigate where systems have failed to protect children, and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse in institutions.

The Commissioners can look at any private, public or non-government organisation that is, or was in the past, involved with children, including government agencies, schools, sporting clubs, orphanages, foster care, and religious organisations.

This includes where they consider an organisation caring for a child is responsible for the abuse or for not responding appropriately, regardless of where or when the abuse took place.

The Commission will not specifically examine child sexual abuse outside organisations, such as in the family. However, any recommendations made by the Commissioners are likely to improve the response to child sexual abuse wherever it happens.

The Royal Commission will be led by Justice Peter McClellan AM. Justice McClellan currently holds one of the most senior judicial positions in New South Wales judiciary as the Chief Judge at Common Law of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Justice McClellan has an extensive legal career – including chairing the Sydney Water Inquiry and working on the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia.

Given the scope, scale and seriousness of this Royal Commission, we asked the Governor-General to appoint a further five Commissioners to support the inquiry.

We have carefully selected a panel of individuals that draws together the right experience and understanding for this incredibly important task.

Bob Atkinson, the former Queensland Police Commissioner, brings over 40 years of policing experience to the Royal Commission, including 12 years as Police Commissioner.

Justice Jennifer Coate served for 20 years as a magistrate and county court judge in Victoria, including for five years as the President of the Children’s Court and most recently as the Victorian Coroner. Justice Coate has also now been appointed to the Family Court of Australia.

Robert Fitzgerald has served as a Commissioner in the Productivity Commission since 2004.  He also has experience in commerce, law, public policy and community services, including as Community and Disability Services Commissioner and Deputy Ombudsman in New South Wales.

Professor Helen Milroy is a consultant psychiatrist with extensive experience in child and adolescent health, including the mental health impacts of child sexual assault, and is currently Winthrop Professor and Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health at the University of Western Australia.

Former Senator for Western Australia Andrew Murray brings tremendous experience as a legislator and member of landmark Senate inquiries into children’s experiences in institutional care.

We have heard from survivors and their families that they want concrete changes in a reasonable timeframe. Many survivors have already waited a long time.

All Commissioners have been appointed for a period of three years and will begin their inquiry as soon as possible. The Commission will prepare an interim report by no later than 30 June 2014, so that governments and organisations can start taking action on the Commission’s early findings and recommendations.

In this interim report, the Commissioners will also identify when their final report will be completed. The final reporting date has been set initially at the end of 2015, but this will be subject to advice from Commissioners in their interim report.

Child sexual abuse is a crime, and a terrible breach of the right of every child to grow up safe and happy.

Child sexual abuse is often associated with other forms of abuse including physical abuse, exploitation and neglect.

All have long-term effects on survivors and their families. There are also costs to the economy and society as a whole.

The Government has worked closely with stakeholders, receiving input from organisations representing survivors of child abuse, community and legal leaders, law enforcement, governments and religious organisations, to develop terms of reference that balance the real and legitimate perspectives of a range of stakeholders.

The Government will also introduce legislation into the Parliament to amend the Royal Commissions Act 1902 to allow evidence to be taken by a single or multiple Commissioners rather than requiring all Commissioners to be present. This will improve the efficiency of the evidence gathering process and avoid delaying the Commission’s work.

We thank every individual and organisation who has provided input into the establishment of the Royal Commission and the terms of reference. We also acknowledge those who have campaigned for many years for a full and proper investigation into child sexual abuse in Australia.

This Government will do everything it can to make sure that what happened to children in the past is never allowed to happen again, and that survivors receive the support and justice they deserve.”

Manny Waks, President of the newly-established Tzedek (‘Justice’ in Hebrew), an advocacy group for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community stated: “We welcome today’s much-anticipated announcement by the Prime Minister and her supporting ministers of the details of the recently announced Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The six commissioners seem to be eminently qualified for this role. Indeed, the fact that six commissioners have been appointed seems to indicate that the government is fully committed to ensuring this Royal Commission is undertaken properly.  The Terms of Reference seem to provide a great balance between examining what transpired in the past and recommending best practice moving forward. There also seems to be a great emphasis on the interests of victims/survivors, which is essential.

It is also particularly heartening to hear that the Commissioners will commence their work immediately. The Commission’s time frame of three years, with an interim report after 18 months, seems appropriate.

Tzedek looks forward to working closely with the Royal Commission as the representative voice of victims/survivors of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community. Tzedek will also work with other stakeholders within the Jewish community to ensure the interests of our community, especially those of the victims, will be adequately represented.

I would like to call upon all victims/survivors of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community to contact us at info@tzedek.org.au so that they too may have a voice by contributing to our submission and other material.

I would also like to call upon all members of the Jewish community to go to the police with any information they may have about allegations of child sexual abuse within our community. It is irrelevant what the information is, when the abuse is alleged to have occurred or whom the alleged perpetrator may have been. The police are best placed to evaluate the usefulness of this information.”

Comments

One Response to “Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse underway”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Yes, but no prosecutions will follow.
    Even now with the recent findings of QC Whitlam, chosen by the bishop of Parramattato deal with a “father F” case of horrendous proportions, with records on public view at Brokenrites website, whose metaculous HonoraryResearcher Dr Bernard Barrett has never been disputed [or sued],, have been ignored, and the three living high placed clergyman, who were told of the abuse and did nothing, have been exhonerated, and full responsibility placed conveniently, at the feet of a now deceased bishop.
    A Catholic Coverup: Father F. updated October 2 2012.
    Maybe a sign of things to come:
    For us at least.

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