Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) continues to investigate the abuse of children, many now adults, that has occurred within institutions nationwide, and the responses of authorities.

The Royal Commission has conducted extensive investigations into circumstances in which abuse has occurred and has already made many valuable recommendations about how to prevent it in the future. Churches, government and non-government organisations have all been implicated in the abuse of children.

Our members have represented hundreds of survivors of abuse and have unique insight into the experience of survivors and the challenges that they have faced in seeking justice. This insight informs our submissions to the Royal Commission. We have appeared as a witness and at roundtables at the invitation of the Royal Commission.

Our engagement has focused on systemic issues that must be resolved to ensure that justice can be afforded to survivors, such as:

  • limitations periods,
  • vicarious liability,
  • a redress scheme, and
  • civil litigation.

We have also actively engaged with governments across Australia to advocate for change that would support justice for survivors. The recommendations of the Royal Commission are being progressively responded to, and we seek to ensure that change will result in the best outcomes for survivors.

Victoria and NSW amended their limitation periods in 2015 and 2016 respectively, so as to grant an unlimited period for the bringing of claims of this nature. With effect from 11 November 2016, the Queensland Parliament legislated to remove limitation periods for sexual abuse victims.

In the ACT, legislation currently before the Legislative Assembly proposes to extend the limited removal of limitation periods in institutional child abuse claims to all child abuse claims. In the Northern Territory, legislation currently before the Parliament proposes to remove the limitation period in identical terms to the NSW legislation.

In November 2016, the Tasmanian Government announced its intention to remove time limits for survivors of child sexual and physical abuse and has now circulated draft legislation in these terms for comment. In Western Australia, legislation is currently before the Parliament to remove all limitation periods for child sexual abuse claims but without mention of physical abuse and psychological sequelae.