Royal Commission for Child Sexual Abuse Interim Report

Monday 7 July 2014 @ 1.34 p.m. | Crime | Legal Research

On Monday 2 July 2014, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its interim report, detailing for the first time the full scope and comprehensiveness of its inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse in Australia.

In the report, the commissioners list the valuable outcomes of their inquiries to date. This includes holding more than 1600 private sessions and receiving more than 1600 written accounts from survivors of sexual abuse. By the end of May, more than 160 allegations had been referred to police.

By the end of June, 13 public hearings had been held around Australia to examine particular case studies of institutional abuse. Over 1000 people are still waiting to attend a private session, and the commissioners have identified 70 cases of institutional abuse that deserve a public hearing.

Impact of the Interim Report

The report details the impacts of the royal commission to date, including substantive cultural and policy shifts within institutions with responsibility for children. The commission has also gathered vital and previously unavailable data on the dynamics of institutional abuse as well as commissioning original research in the area. This work will inform child protection policy well into the future.

The report identifies the following steps which must still be undertaken:

  • identify what institutions and governments should do to achieve ‘best practice’ in reporting and responding to child sexual abuse in institutional contexts;
  • identify what institutions and governments should do to ensure justice for victims by providing redress by institutions, processes for referral for investigation and prosecution, and support services;
  • make recommendations about any policy, legislative, administrative or structural reforms; and
  • have regard to changes to laws, policies, practices and systems that have improved the ability of institutions and governments to better protect against and respond to child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. 

Needs of the Commission to Complete the Report

The Royal Commission identifies two factors which are vital to the report being completed:

  1. Another two years to finish the task; and
  2. Extra funding

Both these factors would lead to what has been called "one of the inquiry’s most important outcomes", namely:

"By placing survivor testimony at the centre of solutions to institutional abuse, the royal commission is signalling a major shift in the value that is attributed to the perspectives and experiences of adults abused as children. By documenting this testimony in a supportive and compassionate manner, the royal commission is also demonstrating that an ethos of justice and an ethos of care are intimately linked to one another."

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