The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has today delivered its final report to the Governor-General. The final reports details the Commission's conclusions and recommendations, and cover a broad range of issues relating to both government and institutions. Some parts of the report have been suppressed because their release would compromise the criminal investigation into the perpetrators involved.
At the final sitting in Sydney yesterday, Justice McClellan spoke of the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of the Royal Commission on 12 November 2012, the Attorney-General's agreement to establish the Royal Commission and the issuing of its Letters Patent on 11 January 2013 and the first private sessions held on 3 April 2013.
Since then, the Royal Commission has heard from over 8,000 survivors and received reports of abuse occurring in more than 4,000 institutions across Australia. Those institutions were observed to display a common theme: a culture in which the best interests of children were not a priority. Instead, in many cases, the protection of the reputation of the institutions and the abusers were the priorities.
Justice McClellan reflected on the stories of personal trauma and tragedy of the survivors, acknowledging that it was impossible not to share the anger of victims in the face of what is for many, a trauma they can never escape. He spoke of the Commissioners having witnessed the resilience of survivors and their steps towards recovery. He acknowledged that the work of the Commission has been stressful and confronting. He stated that the survivors have had a profound effect on the Commissioners and that they deserve the thanks of all Australians.
Survivors have contributed to a large volume of work, Message to Australia, to ensure that survivors' stories are never forgotten. The National Library of Australia and the Library of each State and Territory will be the custodians of this book.
The Commissioners thanked the governments and all of the institutions and individuals who participated in their various consultation processes, including many roundtables, which assisted the Royal Commission in developing its recommendations. Justice McClellan noted that many institutions and government agencies accepted that they had failed and engaged constructively with the Royal Commission in discussions about how they should change.
The Royal Commission has already provided three policy reports to government: Working with Children Checks, Civil Litigation and Redress, and Criminal Justice.
Link to final sitting address and its transcript.