On the 19 June the Australian Parliament passed legislation to establish the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, ensuring the scheme can begin on 1 July 2018. Continue reading
On the 10th May, 2018 the National Redress Scheme (the Scheme) legislation was introduced to the Parliament for Australia. This legislation replaces the Commonwealth legislation previously introduced and this allow for States and territories that join the Scheme to participate under law. Continue reading
Western Australia is the latest state to introduce laws which will enhance the prospects of success for claimants’ bringing claims for damages arising out of non-recent sexual abuse. Following the lead of all other states, apart from South Australia, legislation has just been enacted that will abolish the 6 year limitation period. The recently concluded Royal Commission found that on average an individual waited 22 years to disclose their abusive experiences The changes being introduced also provide a legal basis for suing institutions in the name of their current office holders and include provisions designed to overcome difficulties survivors may face in identifying a correct defendant. Continue reading
IICSA is now moving forward rapidly and in so doing answering some of the past criticisms about how long it will take and whether it is cost effective. Its first report regarding child migration was important but in many ways confirmed what was known from earlier reports and addressed something which no longer occurs. The second report, which is to be published on 12 April, addresses matters which are still very much part of everyday life for many people. This report relates to abuse in connection with Cambridge House Boys’ Hostel, Knowl View School and Rochdale Borough Council. Whilst with any report there will be parts which are very specific to the organisations, people or locality which the investigation focused upon, the themes and recommendations are likely to be of relevance to a much wider audience. As with the reports of the Royal Commission in Australia they will however only be of value if they are put in to practice and not left to gather dust. Continue reading
In the week that saw Dr Larry Nassar, the Michigan State University and Olympic sports doctor sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing female gymnasts in the USA, it is timely to reflect on Volume 14 of the report of the Royal Commission (RC) which focuses on sports and recreational institutions.
The RC identified that there is a real challenge in ensuring child safety in sports and recreational institutions and this is due to the diverse nature of the sector – ranging from affiliated, grant maintained and well-funded, co-ordinated, well-regulated and managed institutions with compliance obligations to small informal not for profit voluntary and community groups and activities where there is a patent lack of policy, procedure, regulation and information.
Volume 16 of the Royal Commission’s (RC) final report focuses on religious organisations. It runs to 3 books, longer than any other volume in the report, and contains 58 recommendations. 7382 survivors (48.8% of those who contacted the RC) reported abuse, in 1691 religious institutions. This was more than in connection with any other type of organisation. There were 30 case studies which, amongst other issues, revealed that many religious leaders knew about allegations of abuse but failed to take any action. The failures of religious organisations are considered to be particularly troubling as a result of the significant part religion has played in the lives of many children. Many survivors reported that as a result of the abuse they had suffered a loss of faith as well as a loss of trust.
Identifying child sexual abuse especially in an institutional setting is the first and often most important step in protecting children and preventing its re-occurrence.
It is not sufficient just to educate children to recognise behaviours that constitute sexual abuse, and instruct them to tell someone if they are abused. Instead, adults also need to be attuned to signs of harm in children and equipped to identify signs of possible sexual abuse. Adults and the wider community need to better understand the dynamics of sexual abuse and how to recognise grooming tactics, and to notice emotional and behavioural changes in children.