What was the Royal Commission?

On 12 November 2012, the then prime minister Julia Gillard announced a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. From its inception in early 2013 to its conclusion in December 2017 the Commission was contacted by more than 16,000 people, with over 8,000 survivors telling their stories in private sessions.

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.

Public hearings

The Commission held 57 public hearings 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 12 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. Read these submissions on our ‘Leading change – The Royal Commission’ page.

Private sessions

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 have spoken of the healing power of these sessions – for the first time, someone in authority had listened to and believed them.

Read more on the Royal Commission’s website.

How the National Redress Scheme was formed

Throughout the Royal Commission knowmore advocated for an independent national redress scheme to be established as the most effective way of providing justice to survivors. 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.

In 2016 the Australian government announced that it was establishing a scheme which states and non-government institutions, such as the churches, would be able to join. In June 2018 legislation to establish the National Redress Scheme was passed by parliament, with the scheme beginning on 1 July 2018. The scheme will remain open for 10 years, closing on 30 June 2028.