PM announces Royal Commission
Yesterday, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the creation of a national Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission will be inquiring into the criminal physical and sexual abuse of children, and the concealment of these criminal practices. The inquiry will include the abuse of children in institutional ‘care’ and foster care.
In making the announcement, the Prime Minister said, “I commend the victims involved for having the courage to speak out. I believe we must do everything we can to make sure that what has happened in the past is never allowed to happen again.”
Pressure on the federal government had been mounting in recent weeks, with the revelations made by NSW Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, evidence from the Parliamentary Inquiry in Victoria, and the release of the report of the St Andrew’s Hostel Inquiry in Western Australia.
Care leavers have been calling on the federal government for a Royal Commission since 2004, with the publication of the Senate Committee’s “Forgotten Australians” report. More recently, the Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) have been campaigning for a Royal Commission, with a postcard campaign targeting state and federal politicians.
The terms of reference of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse will be wide-ranging, looking into “religious organisations, state care providers, not-for-profit bodies as well as the responses of child service agencies and the police”. More details about the inquiry will be made public following federal government consultations with state and territory governments, victims’ groups, religious leaders and community organisations.
This Royal Commission will be different to past inquiries into this issue at state and national levels. It will have wide-ranging coercive powers, such as the ability to call and cross-examine witnesses, and to obtain evidence. This article gives more information about Royal Commissions and how they work.
For more information, please visit the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.