On 12 November 2012, the then Prime Minister the Hon. Julia Gillard MP announced a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which began in early 2013. By its conclusion in December 2017 more than 16,000 people had contacted the Royal Commission, and more than 8,000 people had a private session with a Commissioner.
The final report was delivered to the Governor General on 15 December 2017. Prior to its delivery three other major reports were provided to the federal government:
These reports, together with the final report, provided the government with a total of 409 recommendations to better protect children.
How the Royal Commission was conducted
There were three main programs of work within the Royal Commission:
Fifty-seven public hearings were held over five years, covering a variety of institutions.
knowmore provided legal help and referral assistance to many of the survivors who appeared as witnesses at these hearings.
Research and policy
Research was done into the causes and prevention of child sexual abuse in institutions, and into the treatment and support needs of survivors.
knowmore prepared a number of submissions to inform the Royal Commission about issues raised by our clients and we participated in many forums and consultations held by the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission listened to survivors tell of their experiences of abuse and what they need to achieve justice. These ‘private sessions’ were a one-on-one meeting with a Commissioner. Over the life of the Royal Commission, 8,013 private sessions were held.
Many of our survivor clients spoke of the healing power of these sessions – for the first time someone in authority had listened and believed them.
Read more about the Royal Commission.
Redress and Civil Litigation Report
In September 2015 the Royal Commission released its Redress and Civil Litigation Report. This report made recommendations about what institutions and governments should do to address the impact of past and future child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, including the provision of redress by institutions, changes to current laws and processes for referral for investigation and prosecution.
In summary, the recommendations were:
- that the Government establish a single national redress scheme to provide direct personal responses to survivors, such as an apology, access to counselling and psychological care, and monetary payments. The Royal Commission recommended that it be funded by the institutions and government, and set out in detail the preferred model for the scheme and how it would operate.
- that time limitations for bringing legal claims against institutions be removed for survivors of child sexual abuse and that this law be retrospective, meaning it applies to abuse that happened in the past – even if it was a long time ago.
- that the law be changed to ensure all institutions can be held responsible for child sexual abuse and not refer this responsibility to the perpetrator.
- that guidelines be created setting out how institutions should respond to claims for compensation about allegations of child sexual abuse. The guidelines should be designed to minimise potential re-traumatisation of claimants and to avoid unnecessarily adversarial responses to claims.
On 15 December 2017 the Royal Commission delivered its final report making further recommendations.
How the National Redress Scheme was formed
The Royal Commission’s Redress and Civil Litigation Report contained 99 recommendations, 84 of which related to setting up and operating a national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
Throughout the Royal Commission knowmore had advocated for an independent national redress scheme to be established as the most effective way of providing justice to survivors.
In 2016 the Australian Government announced that it was establishing a Commonwealth Redress Scheme which States and non-government institutions, such as the churches, would also be able to join. Since that time the Government has worked with the States and major non-government institutions to secure their participation in a truly national redress scheme.
In June 2018 legislation to establish the National Redress Scheme was passed by Parliament, allowing the scheme to begin on 1 July 2018. The scheme will remain open for 10 years, closing on 30 June 2027.
Read more about the National Redress Scheme.