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The NSW Government response to the Royal Commission

Published 26th June, 2019 in NSW Government

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. 

The Royal Commission handed down 409 recommendations across a wide range of policy areas.

The NSW Government responded to the Royal Commission's final report in June 2018.

The NSW Government accepted the overwhelming majority of recommendations made by the Royal Commission and is now focussing on working with government and non-government organisations to take action to keep children safe.

2018 NSW Annual Report on Progress

As part of the NSW Government’s response to the Royal Commission’s final report, NSW committed to report on progress through five consecutive annual progress reports to be tabled in NSW Parliament.

On 10 December 2018, the first progress report was provided to Parliament. It provides an update on the recent and ongoing developments in NSW to prevent child sexual abuse, respond to the victims and survivors, and strengthen child sexual abuse laws.

The report highlights recent achievements including:

  • an apology to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse
  • $127.2 million investment of new money to implement Royal Commission recommendations
  • participation in the National Redress Scheme
  • tough new child sexual abuse laws.

2019 NSW Annual Report on Progress

Since the 2018 annual report on progress, the NSW Government continues to make significant progress towards implementing its response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The second progress report provides an update on major reforms to prevent child sexual abuse, improve responses to reports of abuse and ensure that survivors receive appropriate support, redress and justice.

The report highlights key achievements, including:

  • a NSW-led national initiative that will enable child protection workers to identify whether a child or person of interest may be known in another jurisdiction
  • legal reforms to strengthen the child protection reportable conduct scheme, expand mandatory reporter groups and strengthen protections for reporters
  • better protection and support for children in out-of-home care
  • improved education and training about child safety.

The next annual progress report will be released in December 2020.

Apology to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse

NSW held an official ceremony at the Sydney Opera House on 22 October 2018 to screen the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse as it was delivered at Parliament House in Canberra.

Prior to screening the National Apology, Premier Gladys Berejiklian delivered an apology to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse on behalf of the NSW Government. The apology paid tribute to survivors, and thanked those who bravely shared their experiences through the Royal Commission.

Attorney General Mark Speakman and the Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward also delivered addresses at the ceremony.

Where will investments be made?

In October 2018, the NSW Government announced a $127 million package to apply the recommendations from the Royal Commission’s final report.

The package will:

  • strengthen prevention measures
  • ensure greater access to treatment and support services
  • toughen the criminal justice response
  • strengthen measures in the community with stronger child safe standards.

This package continues the government’s commitment to implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission. To date, more than $570 million has been invested in making changes based on the Royal Commission’s findings.

The $127 million package includes:

  • $37.7 million for early intervention, child specialist therapeutic services and community resources
  • $14.8 million to expand outreach for Aboriginal people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • $14.3 million for an integrated specialist therapeutic service
  • $6.9 million for strengthened out-of-home care checks
  • $5.9 million for improved safety of children in juvenile detention
  • $4.1 million to expand Local Court capacity
  • $2.7 million to provide resources for NGO caseworkers
  • $2.1 million for a worker register to better protect children in intensive therapeutic care.

Read the factsheet on these investments.

What are the key reforms to date?

On 9 March 2018, the NSW Government announced it will opt-in to the National Redress Scheme. NSW and Victoria were the first states to commit to the Redress Scheme. NSW was the first state to pass legislation for the National Redress Scheme.

The NSW Government announced reforms to civil litigation law to make it easier for survivors to sue institutions responsible for child abuse.

The NSW Government has introduced extensive criminal law reforms to ensure survivors can find justice and perpetrators of abuse are held to account. NSW was the first state to pass legislation for redress and to introduce extensive criminal law reforms including maximum life sentences for persistent child sexual abuse and new offences for failure to report or protect against child abuse.

In October 2018, the NSW Government passed the Civil Liability Amendment (Institutional Child Abuse) Bill. This bill allows institutions to be held responsible for child abuse.

The NSW Government has accepted Child Safe Standards, strengthened protections for mandatory reporters and committed to reporting annually to the NSW Parliament.

The NSW Government has worked closely with the Australian Government and other states and territories to identify the following national priorities:

  • making institutions child safe
  • improving cross-border information sharing about children’s welfare
  • preventing and responding to children with harmful sexual behaviours
  • reporting annually on progress. 

National Redress Scheme

NSW was the first state to pass legislation referring powers to the Commonwealth to establish the National 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
  • 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 provides an alternative to pursuing a claim through civil litigation.

The Redress Scheme commenced on 1 July 2018.

Applications are managed by the Australian Government.

Read more about the Redress Scheme on the Australian Government's Department of Social Services website or call the National Redress Information Line on 1800 737 377.

Where can you get help?

The NSW Government encourages survivors of child sexual or physical assault to access confidential, free and unlimited counselling that is available through the Victims Support Scheme.

Other support services that operate 24/7 include:

Published 26th June, 2019 in NSW Government
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