Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Report released


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December 2017


On Friday 15th December Justice Peter McClellan, chair of the Royal Commission delivered the final report of the Royal Commission to the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove. The Governor-General tabled the final report in parliament and it has now been made publicly available on the Royal Commission’s website.

The report details the findings of the five-year inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in institutions in Australia, and the responses of those institutions to the abuse. The Royal Commission was announced by the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard in November, 2012. Over the last five years, six Commissioners, supported by 680 staff, heard from 7,981 survivors of child sexual abuse and received 1,344 written accounts of abuse. These figures and other key findings have been published as a summary of the final information received by the Royal Commission.

The final report consists of 17 volumes which can each be read as a self-contained report on a particular institution or topic. The Royal Commission has also produced a brief guide to the final report, as well as brief guides focused on specific issues: making institutions safe for children and young people; issues particularly relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and disability issues.

The Commissioners and the Prime Minister have thanked the survivors for telling their stories, and the Commissioners have acknowledged the work of the organisations who have supported and advocated for the survivors. More than 1000 survivors contributed a “Message to Australia” that has been published in a commemorative book held by the National Library of Australia.

The report finds that tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in Australian institutions, and that the true number will never be known. The Royal Commission heard from adult survivors as well as from children who had been recently abused; the reports of abuse spanned the past 90 years. The Royal Commission found that more than 4000 individual institutions failed children across many decades in Australia.

The Royal Commission has made 189 recommendations to improve the safety of children in institutions. A complete list of the recommendations can also be found in the preface and executive summary to the final report.

In a media release, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced funding to ensure there is support and assistance  for survivors as they seek redress, and announced the establishment of a taskforce to consider and coordinate action on the recommendations. The taskforce will run from January to June 2018. The Federal Government is currently considering the recommendations and have stated that they will not respond in full until 2018.