Taskforce to respond to Royal Commission’s final report
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard evidence of shocking and appalling abuse perpetrated on children by the very people who were supposed to care for them.
Since the Royal Commission began in 2013, over 8000 personal stories of child sexual abuse in institutions have been told in private sessions.
The Royal Commission also held 57 formal public hearings over 400 days around Australia, during which it heard evidence about sexual abuse within institutions from 1200 witnesses.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down its final report in December 2017.
The NSW Government has welcomed the final report and promised to consider its recommendations carefully.
The final report is a testament to the courage of the survivors who shared their heartbreaking accounts, and the dedication of the many people who worked on the commission.
Their legacy has been a national reckoning with the injustices of the past and a deep commitment to healing and to protecting the most vulnerable in our community from the horrors of abuse.
What does the final report contain?
The final report brings together what the Royal Commission learned during the five-year inquiry. It sets out what the Royal Commission heard, concluded and recommended to better prevent and respond to child sexual abuse in institutions.
The final report is made up of a preface and executive summary and 17 volumes. It makes 409 recommendations across a wide range of policy areas aimed at improving institutional responses to child sexual abuse. The Royal Commission's recommendations aim to:
- prevent abuse or, at the very least, identify it as early as possible
- improve the way perpetrators are investigated, prosecuted and sentenced
- improve survivors’ access to justice and ongoing support.
The Royal Commission’s recommendations recognise that governments, institutions and the broader community share responsibility for keeping children safe. Recommendations focus on the following policy areas:
- making institutions safer for children
- improving advocacy, support and treatment services for survivors
- responding to children with harmful sexual behaviours
- improving the response of different types of institutions.
What is the NSW Government doing?
In December 2017, the NSW Government established a taskforce to respond to the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The taskforce, which comprises representatives from across NSW Government, will carefully consider the report’s 409 recommendations. The taskforce will ensure that the NSW Government’s response is a coordinated, whole-of-government effort.
On 5 February 2018, the NSW Government also committed to respond formally to the recommendations of the final report in June 2018.
Since the Royal Commission began in 2013, the NSW Government has made sweeping reforms to out-of-home-care and significant changes to improve access to justice for survivors. Support for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse includes:
- a compassionate approach to litigation, acknowledging the life-long harm that can result from child sexual abuse
- the removal of the limitation period in civil claims, so survivors of child abuse can claim for damages regardless of the date of the alleged abuse
- a tribute at the Parramatta Girls Home to the women who experienced child sexual and physical abuse at this institution
- providing unlimited and free counselling for survivors of child sexual abuse, as well as improved access to care records.
The NSW Government continues to work closely with the Australian Government and other states and territories to determine the best way forward to ensure the best outcomes for vulnerable children and young people.
The Office of the Children’s Guardian continues to accredit out-of-home care providers and works with institutions to help them become child safe.
Commonwealth Redress Scheme
On 9 March 2018 the NSW Government announced it will opt-in to the Commonwealth Redress Scheme.
The Redress Scheme seeks to acknowledge the life-long impact of institutional child sexual abuse by providing eligible survivors with:
- a redress payment of up to $150,000
- access to counselling services, and
- a direct, personal response from the responsible institution.
The Redress Scheme will ensure that redress is provided to survivors in a consistent way, no matter where they live in Australia.
The Redress Scheme will provide an alternative to pursuing a claim through civil litigation.
The Redress Scheme is expected to commence on 1 July 2018.
Applications will be managed by the Australian Government.
Further information about the Redress Scheme is available by calling the National Redress Information Line on 1800 146 713.
Where can you get help?
The NSW Government encourages survivors of child sexual or physical assault to access the unlimited free and confidential counselling that is available through the Victims Support Scheme.
Other support services operate that 24/7 include: