Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child abuse announced

On 17 April 2012, the Baillieu state government announced the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations. The inquiry will be conducted by the bipartisan Family and Community Development Committee, and will report by 30 April 2013.

This decision is in response to Recommendation 48 from the Cummins Inquiry which called for a ‘formal investigation … into the processes by which religious organisations respond to the criminal abuse of children by religious personnel within their organisations’. The government acknowledged that this parliamentary inquiry is also in response to the efforts of many individuals and groups representing victims and their families to bring this issue to public attention. In its press release, the government extended its appreciation to ‘the many individuals and organisations who have contacted the Government and provided accounts of their experiences’.

Yesterday’s announcement brought a mixed response – while many expressed relief and happiness at this historic decision, there were also concerns raised about whether a parliamentary inquiry is the most appropriate model.