The Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
On the 11 January 2013, the Governor–General of the Commonwealth of Australia appointed a Royal Commission to investigate institutional responses to child sexual abuse. The Royal Commission was appointed to enquire into how institutions (private, public and non-government) failed to protect children from sexual abuse. The Royal Commission was appointed to make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse.
On the 15 December 2017 the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was delivered to the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Final Report and other publications from the Royal Commission are available to download from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Website.
Content warning: Please be aware that many of these documents contain information and personal accounts of child sexual abuse which may be upsetting or triggering for the reader, please continue with caution.
The Royal Commission's Final Report comprises 17 volumes and includes a total of 189 new recommendations, many of which are aimed at making institutions safer for children.
Together with the three final reports already released – Criminal Justice, Redress and Civil Litigation and Working With Children Checks – Commissioners have made a total of 409 recommendations.
Commissioners heard thousands of stories of child sexual abuse in institutions. They travelled to every state and territory to hold 57 public hearings and 8,013 private sessions.
They have read 1,344 personal written accounts. The Final Report contains 3,955 de-identified narratives based on survivors' personal experiences of child sexual abuse told during private sessions and shared in written accounts.
Resources to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trauma survivors:
Coping with the Impacts of Trauma
This resource provides guiding tips on coping with triggers and how to recognise your strength and resilience in coping with trauma. The resource has undergone consultation and development with both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists, internal Healing Foundation staff and external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander redress support services.
Historical Protection Laws & Institutions Brochure
This resource provides an overview of some of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander State and Territory protection laws that followed the 1837 Report on Aboriginal Tribes.
Healing Foundation: National Redress Specialist Support Project
In February 2017 the Federal government announced they would be setting up a national redress scheme for survivors to be able to apply for redress at one central point. Alongside this the government committed to continuing to fund and support the development of redress services to continue to support survivors on their journey.
The Healing Foundation has been funded nationally to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support services in their development as redress services come on line. The Project provides specialist training and advice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, assisting them to build culturally based, trauma informed and healing focused practice for individuals, families and communities. We do this by raising awareness of the importance of culturally based healing responses with governments and other service providers and building the capacity, knowledge and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to safely and effectively respond to our community members seeking support.
How do I find about Redress and what I am eligible for?
For more information about the National Redress Scheme and how to apply for it, you can contact the National Redress Contact Centre by visiting www.nationalredress.gov.au or calling 1800 737 377.
The Contact Centre is open from 8am-5pm AEST, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). If you’re calling from overseas, please call +61 3 6222 3455 and ask to speak to someone from the National Redress Scheme.
People can access free and confidential Redress Support Services which can help people through the redress application process.
These services provide practical and emotional support, legal advice and counselling. These services are listed at: www.nationalredress.gov.au/support
If immediate assistance is required, 24hour assistance is available through:
Beyondblue: 1300 224 636
Lifeline: 13 11 14
1800 Respect: 1800 737 732
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
On Monday 22 October 2018, The Healing Foundation released a report, titled Looking Where the Light Is: creating and restoring safety and healing, to coincide with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
The report details a cultural framework that aims to address the inaction that followed the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report, which outlined 54 recommendations to redress the impact of removal policies and tackle ongoing trauma – most remain unresolved.
With more than 14 per cent of respondents to the Royal Commission coming from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the effects of institutional child sexual abuse are overwhelming.
While an apology is welcome and seen as a good first step, the inaction from the Bringing Them Home report necessitates a direct response.
The Royal Commission made a number of recommendations in relation to advocacy, support and treatment services for survivors, including providing access to tailored treatment and support services for as long as necessary, along with funding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing approaches as an ongoing, integral part of therapeutic responses.
The way forward is clear. However, it requires long term commitment from governments, the broader Australian community and mainstream organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.