NSW Government response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
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.
Read the NSW Government response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (PDF 1.74MB) from June 2018.
Read the Australian Government response.
2022 NSW Annual Report on Progress
The 2022 Annual Report on Progress outlines the significant progress NSW has made since December 2021 to implement its response to the Royal Commission and provides highlights of key achievements over previous years since the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report.
This will be the NSW Government’s final Annual Report on Progress. Work on implementing accepted recommendations of the Royal Commission to help keep children and young people safe will continue.
Key achievements from the 2022 Annual Report include:
- Opening a memorial at the former Parramatta Girls Home, which acknowledges the abuse and mistreatment of the former residents of this institution.
- Commencing the Residential Care Workers Register to prevent unsuitable people from moving between residential care services.
- Prescribing more agencies to allow NSW prescribed bodies to share relevant information about the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child or young person with those agencies.
- Changing legislation after extensive consultation to help improve responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.
- Working with the Commonwealth and other state and territory governments to develop Action Plans to implement Safe and Supported: The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021-2031.
- Improving online safety for children and young people.
- Rolling out a statewide NSW Health Adult Survivors Program.
Read the NSW Annual Report of Progress: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - December 2022 (PDF 938.53KB)
Read the Factsheet: Making NSW a safer place for our children (PDF 220.31KB)
2021 NSW Annual Report on Progress
The 2021 Annual Report on Progress highlights the activity undertaken by the NSW Government to implement accepted recommendations of the Royal Commission. The work highlights the Government’s priority of keeping children and young people safe. Significant progress has been made, despite the impact of COVID-19 throughout 2021.
Key achievements highlighted in the 2021 report include:
- Introducing new laws establishing the Child Safe Scheme, a regulatory framework requiring certain NSW child-related organisations to implement the Child Safe Standards.
- Training resources for carers and caseworkers caring for and working with children and young people.
- Boosted protection and support for young people in youth justice centres, such as new information provided about how to make a complaint.
- Developing a framework for preventing and responding to problematic and harmful sexual behaviour in children and young people.
- Improving child safety in schools by working towards strengthening national teacher registration.
The NSW Government’s final progress report is due to be released in December 2022.
Read the NSW Annual Report of Progress: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - December 2021 (PDF 394.95KB)
Read the Factsheet: Making NSW a safer place for our children (PDF 49.54KB)
2020 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 5 consecutive annual progress reports to be tabled in NSW Parliament.
The NSW Government has released 3 annual progress reports to date, demonstrating that NSW has continued to make significant progress towards implementing its reporting to the Royal Commission’s recommendations.
Key achievements from the recent third Annual Report on Progress released in December 2020 includes:
- the rollout of trauma-informed care training to child protection caseworkers and carers, alongside online resources about trauma-informed care.
- improvements to the experience and safety of environments for young people in youth justice centres.
- statewide rollout of services across NSW for children and young people aged 10-17 years with harmful sexual behaviours.
- increased training and resources for teachers and schools to enhance their response to children at risk and prevent harm.
- release of the Child Safe Standards guide, which helps to create, maintain and improve child safe practices.
The next Annual Report on Progress will be released in December 2021.
Read the NSW Annual Report on Progress: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – December 2020
2019 NSW Annual Report on Progress
The second progress report, released in 2019 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 (OOHC)
- improved education and training about child safety.
2018 NSW Annual Report on Progress
On 10 December 2018, the first progress report was provided to the NSW Parliament. It provides an update on achievements 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 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.
Where investments will be made
In October 2018, the NSW Government announced a comprehensive $127.2 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 NSW Government’s commitment to implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission.
The $127.2 million package includes:
- $37.7 million for early intervention, child specialist therapeutic services and community resources
- $28.3 million to deliver the Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program
- $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
- $3.8 million to consult with affected sectors on implementing Child Safe Standards and to develop a scheme for the regulation of Child Safe Standards
- $2.7 million to provide resources for NGO caseworkers
- $2.5 million funding boost for NSW-funded community support services
- $2.1 million for a worker register to better protect children in intensive therapeutic care.
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 former Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward also delivered addresses at the ceremony.
Key reforms to date
In 2016, the NSW Government implemented 8 of the Royal Commission’s civil litigation recommendations in two key reforms. Limitation periods were removed for civil compensation claims for child abuse. Guiding principles were also introduced to ensure that NSW Government agencies take a compassionate and consistent approach in responding to civil claims for child abuse.
In October 2018, the NSW Parliament passed legislation to provide better access to civil justice for child abuse survivors. The legislation:
- ensures that all survivors can sue a proper defendant with sufficient assets to satisfy a child abuse claim. This addresses the problem that unincorporated organisations such as some churches have no ‘legal personality’ meaning they cannot be sued.
- establishes two prospective statutory liabilities for child abuse. The first makes organisations liable in certain circumstances for child abuse perpetrated by individuals associated with the organisation. The second makes organisations vicariously liable in certain circumstances for child abuse perpetrated by employees and persons ‘akin’ to employees.
The 2018 reforms completed the NSW Government’s implementation of the Royal Commission’s civil litigation recommendations.
For more information on these changes please see Factsheet: Better access to justice for child abuse survivors.
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 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 June 2020, the NSW Government passed the Evidence Amendment (Tendency and Coincidence) Bill 2020. NSW was also the first state to pass legislation to facilitate greater admissibility of tendency and coincidence evidence, with a particular focus on greater admissibility of tendency evidence in criminal proceedings for child sexual offences.
Tendency evidence is evidence of the character, reputation, conduct or tendency of a person, which is used to prove that a person has or had a tendency to act in a particular way or have a particular state of mind. An example of tendency evidence is evidence that an accused person has a tendency to be sexually attracted to young boys and to act on that attraction.
Coincidence evidence is evidence that two or more similar events occurred, which is used to prove that a person did a particular act or had a particular state of mind, on the basis that it is improbable that the events occurred coincidentally. An example of coincidence evidence is multiple complainants alleging that an accused person abused them when they were children.
The NSW Government has accepted the 10 Child Safe Standards as recommended by the Royal Commission.
The Office of the Children’s Guardian (the OCG) is developing a regulatory scheme to support implementation of the Child Safe Standards in child-related organisations in NSW. Subject to further work, the new scheme will be rolled out in 2021.
The OCG released:
- Making organisations safer for children, which provides information on the 2019 consultation.
- a Guide to the Child Safe Standards supports organisations to develop and put in place strategies to keep children safe.
- a Strategic Plan (2020-23), which sets out the OCG’s vision to influence and lead change by building capability in organisations to be child safe.
Amendments to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulation 2012 commenced on 4 February 2019, enabling many NSW organisations who work with children to directly share information with interstate statutory child protection agencies.
Read more information about these changes on the Department of Communities and Justice website.
Amendments to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 commenced on 1 March 2020. Mandatory reporter groups now include all registered psychologists and people in religious ministry.
The amendments also strengthen protections for reporters against all civil and criminal liability, reprisals and other detrimental action.
Read more information about these changes on the Department of Communities and Justice website.
The NSW Government is working closely with the Australian Government and other states and territories to progress the following national priorities:
- make institutions child safe
- improve cross-border information sharing about children’s welfare
- prevent and respond to children with harmful sexual behaviours
- developing a National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
- report 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 you can get help
The NSW Government encourages survivors of child sexual assault or physical abuse to access confidential, free and unlimited counselling that is available through the Victims Support Scheme.
If you need assistance identifying the right service for you, call the Victims Access Line (VAL) on 1800 633 063 or the Aboriginal Contact Line on 1800 019 123.
People who were in out-of-home care before 1990 can access counselling and a range of other support by calling Wattle Place on 1800 663 884 (free call).
Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) is a national, not-for-profit advocacy organisation for care leavers of all ages. CLAN provide information, advocacy, telephone support, referrals and assistance with reading files. To contact CLAN, call 1800 008 774 (free call) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other support services that operate 24/7 include:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Survivors & Mates Support Network (SAMSN) Helpline – 1800 472 676
- Child Protection Helpline – 13 21 11