The Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care was referred to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee on 4 March 2003. This inquiry was directed primarily to those affected children who were not covered by the 2001 report Lost Innocents: Righting the Record, inquiring into child migrants, and the 1997 report, Bringing them Home, inquiring into Aboriginal children. The Committee released its first report from the inquiry on 30 August 2004, Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children. A second report, Protecting vulnerable children: A national challenge, was released on 17 March 2005. The Australian Government's response to the inquiry was tabled in the Senate on 10 November 2005.
The campaigning of Senator Andrew Murray was instrumental in the establishment of the Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care.
Andrew Murray was born in England. At the age of 4 he travelled to Zimbabwe as a Fairbridge child migrant. As a Senator for the Australian Democrats, Andrew Murray was well-known for his efforts to raise awareness of the situation of people who have experienced institutional 'care' as children, child migrants and his lobbying around the issue of child welfare in general.
Murray's campaigning led in 2000 to the establishment of the Senate Community Affairs Inquiry into Child Migration, of which he was a member. In 2003, Murray procured political support for another Senate inquiry, this time into Children in Institutional Care - this Committee led to the Forgotten Australians report.
Andrew Murray retired from the Senate at the expiration of his term on 30 June 2008.
Under the Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care's terms of reference, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee was to inquire into the following matters:
(a) in relation to any government or non-government institutions, and fostering practices, established or licensed under relevant legislation to provide care and/or education for children:
(i) whether any unsafe, improper or unlawful care or treatment of children occurred in these institutions or places,
(ii) whether any serious breach of any relevant statutory obligation occurred at any time when children were in care or under protection, and
(iii) an estimate of the scale of any unsafe, improper or unlawful care or treatment of children in such institutions or places;
(b) the extent and impact of the long-term social and economic consequences of child abuse and neglect on individuals, families and Australian society as a whole, and the adequacy of existing remedies and support mechanisms;
© the nature and cause of major changes to professional practices employed in the administration and delivery of care compared with past practice;
(d) whether there is a need for a formal acknowledgement by Australian governments of the human anguish arising from any abuse and neglect suffered by children while in care;
€ in cases where unsafe, improper or unlawful care or treatment of children has occurred, what measures of reparation are required;
(f) whether statutory or administrative limitations or barriers adversely affect those who wish to pursue claims against perpetrators of abuse previously involved in the care of children; and
(g) the need for public, social and legal policy to be reviewed to ensure an effective and responsive framework to deal with child abuse matters in relation to:
(i) any systemic factors contributing to the occurrences of abuse and/or neglect,
(ii) any failure to detect or prevent these occurrences in government and non-government institutions and fostering practices, and
(iii) any necessary changes required in current policies, practices and reporting mechanisms.
The Committee released its first report from the inquiry on 30 August 2004, Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children.
A second report, Protecting vulnerable children: A national challenge, was released on 17 March 2005.
The Australian Government's response to the inquiry was tabled in the Senate on 10 November 2005.
Sources used to compile this entry: Swain, Shurlee, History of Australian inquiries reviewing institutions providing care for children, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Sydney, October 2014, http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/documents/published-research/historical-perspectives-report-3-history-of-inquir.pdf.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 6 March 2009, Last modified: 14 August 2015