Child abuse is a crime and abhorrent to society. However, in every-day life, child abuse occurs on a gradient of seriousness and is often perpetrated by people entrusted with responsibility for the care and protection of children and young people (teachers, coaches, and clergy etc.). Thus individuals and organizations have not always recognised or responded to child abuse as they could or should have. Victims of child abuse also often come forward many years after the abuse, if they come forward all, and when they do so they often do so with a fear of being discounted by individuals or institutions.
The Royal Commission provides an opportunity for victims to come forward and be heard. It is also a process whereby institutional policies and practices can be examined. This will assist the Royal Commission make recommendations to improve legislation and to outline 'best practice' requirements that can help to better-protect children and young people in the future and ensure that reports of child sexual abuse are dealt with appropriately.
In January 2013 the Commonwealth Government announced the Terms of Reference and the names of six Commissioners who will conduct the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse across Australia. The Royal Commission is envisaged to run from 2013 - 2015 but it may run for longer than this.
The Royal Commission will review the policies and practices of Government and non-Government agencies in response to reports of child sexual abuse. This includes agencies such as schools, community groups, and religious organizations. The Royal Commission also has powers to request and coerce information from individuals or organizations that it identifies for further scrutiny.
As the Royal Commission goes about its work it will release Issues Papers for individuals and organizations to comment on.
SAFE PLACE SERVICES WELCOMES THE ROYAL COMMISSION
Safe Place Services, on behalf of the Adventist Church in Australia, welcomes the Royal Commission as timely and necessary development in improving responses and services to victims and establishing child safe environments in a more effective manner.
Safe Place Services signals its intent to fully cooperate with the Royal Commission. In addition, Safe Place Services is supportive of any Police response that may result directly or indirectly as a result of the Royal Commission which reflects our ongoing commitment to the role of Police in investigating complaints/charges that are inherently of a criminal nature.
DOCUMENTS ABOUT THE ROYAL COMMISSION
The following documents provide some further details about the Royal Commission ('left click' documents to open in a new screen, or 'right click' to download):
- Government Announcement - 11 January 2013 (PDF, 30 KB)
- Letters Patent - 'Terms of Reference' (PDF, 64 KB) The official document issued by the Attorney General describing the scope of the Royal Commission and instructing the Commissioners to conduct their appointed work
- 'Plain English' - Terms of Reference (WORD, 37 KB) Describes in plain terms what the Commission seeks to do
- Support Services (WORD, 36 KB) A list of phone numbers for sexual abuse information, counseling and support services issued by the Royal Commission
- Information Sheet (WORD, 30 KB) Brief information on 'hearings' and the 'powers' of the Royal Commission to request and coerce information and documents form individuals and organizations
People who elect to provide evidence (their story) to the Royal Commission will have opportunity to do so as the Commissioners travel the nation and hold hearings. Usually, Royal Commission hearings are public. However, given the sensitive nature of child abuse, provision is being made for private hearings to be held and for identifying details to be removed from published evidence where this is appropriate/deemed necessary. People wanting to provide their story to the Royal Commission can also provide a written statement via post or e-mail instead of appearing in person.
People seeking to provide a statement or appear as a witness can leave their contact details by calling 1800 099 340 and staff from the Royal Commission will make contact with you.
People that appear in person before the Royal Commission at hearings will also have access to support staff who will be on duty to assist.
The Commonwealth Government has also funded "KnowMore", a legal service to assist people who wish to come forward to the Royal Commmission. The services provided by KnowMore are explained on their website http://knowmore.org.au and they can be contacted via their free advice line on 1800 605 762.
GUIDELINES ON PREPARING A STATEMENT OR SUBMISSION FOR THE ROYAL COMMISSION
The Royal Commission have released a set of questions to assist individuals or organizations prepare a statement or submission. Check it out here:
- Guide for Preparing a Submission (PDF, 870 KB)
TRANSCRIPTS & PRIVACY
Transcripts of hearings, and other submissions, are generally treated as public documents and will be published on the Royal Commission website (see website link below). Appropriate steps will be taken in this instance to protect the privacy of individuals given the sensitive nature of sexual assault and other forms of child abuse. Hearings conducted by the Royal Commission, and submissions received, may also be reported in the Media. Royal Commissions are intended to be public forums. This publicity helps demonstrate transparency to the public and the Parliament for the Royal Commission's findings and recommendations.
Transcripts from hearings and sittings, and copies of submissions, will be made available on the Royal Commission's website (see link below) as the work of the Commission proceeds. Sitting times in various regions around Australia will be announced in due course and have begun in many areas already.
ROYAL COMMISSION WEBSITE
Keep up-to-date with the latest information and announcements at the Royal Commission's website