Volume 17 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (RC) final report describes the impact and legacy of the RC and discusses the monitoring, reporting and implementation of its recommendations.This report is divided into three main sections looking at the impact during the life of the RC, work beyond the RC and a series of monitoring and reporting recommendations.
Impact during the life of the RC
A number of government and institutional responses have been received by the RC during the course of its work. In particular the report highlights the work done by various state and territory governments to implement the key recommendations of the RC’s “Working with Children Checks” report. The RC encouraged institutions and government to amend their Working With Children Checks to implement standards identified in the report and set up a consistent national model across all jurisdictions. It is recorded that state and territory governments in Australia have given in-principle support for a nationally consistent Working With Children Checks scheme.
In the RC’s “ Redress and civil litigation” report the Commission recommended to the Australian government a single national redress scheme as the most effective structure for ensuring justice for survivors. On 4 November 2016 the Federal Minister for social services announced a national redress scheme to commence in 2018 and operate for 10 years with provisions for review and extension.
The report also notes activity in relation to the RC’s recommendations concerning civil litigation and the fact that some states and territories have introduced legislation to remove the limitation period in relation to child sexual abuse claims.
During the course of the inquiry it was noted that the private sessions process which included providing counselling and support to survivors had a profound impact on many of those who took part. Many survivors who engaged with the RC had been encouraged to seek redress and advocate for others affected by child sexual abuse. This in turn had contributed to an increased demand for support services to victims and survivors and had an impact in relation to police investigation of child sexual abuse offences.
Beyond the RC
This report makes the point that the RC’s impact will depend primarily on the implementation of the recommendations made in the final report as well so those made in earlier reports. This report focuses on how those recommendations should be monitored and reported on by setting out a series of further recommendations to focus on that aim.
The report sets out six recommendations for the monitoring and reporting on the totality of the recommendations set out in the RC’s report. These are summarised as follows:
- 17.1: The Australian government and state and territory governments should each issue a formal response to the final report within six months of it being tabled.
- 17.2: 12 months after the final report is tabled the Australian Government and state and territory governments should report on the implementation of the RC’s recommendations through five consecutive annual reports tabled before their respective parliaments.
- 17.3: Major institutions that engage in child related work should, beginning 12 months after the final report is tabled, report on their implementation of the RC’s recommendations to the National Office for Child Safety through five consecutive annual reports.
- 17.4: 10 years after the tabling of the final report the Australian Government should initiate a review to establish the extent to which the RC’s recommendations have been implemented; to examine the extent to which the measures taken in response of the RC has been effective in preventing child of sexual abuse and advise on what further steps should be taken by governments and institutions to ensure the continuing improvement in policy and service delivery in relation to child sexual abuse in institutional contexts.
- 17.5: The Australian Government should host and maintained the RC’s website for the duration of the national redress scheme.
- 17.6: A national memorial should be commissioned by the Australian Government for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts and victims and survivors should be consulted on the memorial design.
Clearly, as is evident from this volume 17 report and the recommendations set out within it, it is the intention of the RC to ensure that its work and legacy is maintained and sustained over a significant period of time to ensure its recommendations are implemented, reviewed and when necessary, improved upon.
Written by Michael Pether, partner at BLM