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Past Inquiries, Schemes and Royal Commissions
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse examined how various institutions responded to child sexual abuse.
The Royal Commission was established by the Federal Government on 11 January 2013 and made its final recommendations to government in December 2017.
The Commission held 8,014 sessions with survivors of child sexual abuse relating to allegations or instances of abuse in over 4,000 institutions. It also held 57 public hearings, or case studies, around the country. 1,200 witnesses gave evidence over 400 days of hearings. The Royal Commission also called for submissions from the public on a range of issues such as redress and civil litigation.
The Commission made a number of recommendations to make children safer in the future and to improve the lives of abuse survivors. You can read the Royal Commission’s final report here.
Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations
A Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations was established in April 2012 and handed down its final “Betrayal of Trust” report in November 2013. You can read the report here.
The Inquiry’s report contained 15 recommendations dealing with criminal law reform; creating child-safe organisations; and civil law reform, which the Victorian Government has implemented or is in the process of implementing.
State-run redress schemes
Over the years, a number of redress schemes have been set up by state governments to provide redress to children abused in care. Schemes ran in Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia. Ryan Carlisle Thomas has assisted clients to secure payments under these schemes.
The Commonwealth-led redress scheme, which was established on 1 July 2018, is the first time a national approach to redress has been taken.
Overseas Inquiries and Redress Schemes
Several major inquiries have also been conducted into historical institutional child abuse overseas or are in the process of being conducted.
In Northern Ireland, the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry examined allegations of child abuse in children's homes and other residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995. Set up in 2012, the inquiry closed on 30 June 2017. A number of Australians gave evidence in the proceedings, most related to their experiences as child migrants. You can find more information here.
Republic of Ireland
In the Republic of Ireland, the Residential Institutional Redress Board is now finalising the last of more than 16,000 claims made for abuse in residential care that were lodged following a national inquiry into institutional abuse in the early 2000s. The scheme is now closed to new applicants. A statutory-based organisation set up in 2013 known as ‘Caranua’ continues to process claims for health, housing and other support for people abused in residential care as children. More information is available from the Residential Institutions Redress Board and Caranua websites.
In 2015, also in the Republic of Ireland, a national Commission of Investigation, known as the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters, was established to investigate the mistreatment of unmarried mothers and children in so-called ‘Mother and Baby Homes’ that operated during the 20th century. The Commission was established following claims that the bodies of around 800 babies and children may have been interred in an unmarked mass grave in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in County Galway. The Commission is also investigating an additional thirteen Mother and Baby Homes, including the Bessboro Mother and Baby Home in Cork. More information can be found here.
In Scotland, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has been running since 2015 and is investigating the nature and extent of abuse of children whilst in care in Scotland. The inquiry is due to report to Scottish Ministers by October 2019, with recommendations as to how to improve the law, policies and practices in Scotland. For more information. click here.
In July 2014, the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry was established to examine abuse of children in the Island’s care system from 1945 until the present day. Evidence was heard from more than 450 people and the final report was handed to the States of Jersey in July 2017. Read more here.
In 2014, the United Kingdom established an Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales to investigate institutional child abuse in the UK between 1970 and the present day. The aim is to examine the failings of state and non-state institutions that have led to child sexual abuse. The Inquiry has investigated the link between institutional abuse in the UK and Australia which came in the form of child migrants who were forcibly removed from the UK and sent to various institutions across Australia. Further information is available here.
In New Zealand, the Historical Abuse in State Care Royal Commission was established in February 2018 and is set to run for three years. The Commission will examine the experiences of people abused in state care between 1950 and 1999, and ways to stop further abuse. The inquiry covers physical, sexual, and emotional abuse committed against children who were within the care of the state, including in youth detention centres, psychiatric hospitals, orphanages and other privately-run government care facilities. Additional information can be found here.