Final Hearing Day and Final Report publication by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sat at 9.30am on Thursday the 14 December in Sydney for the last time.

The Chair Justice McClellan noted that on 12 November 2012 Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the creation of the Royal Commission, which was to be a national commission held jointly with each of the States and Territories.

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Message to Australia – The Survivors’ Report

As the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse draws to an end, with the final sitting of the five year inquiry having taken place on 14 December, 2017, the Royal Commission handed over a commemorative book to the National Library of Australia entitled ‘Messages to Australia’. The volume will be permanently retained in the National Library of Australia, with a copy also held in each State and Territory Library, to ensure that these personal stories are never forgotten.

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Inquiries update

The four active national abuse inquiries are all at the moment running smoothly, a positive step for the inquiries in Scotland and England and Wales in particular. Recent progress and up-coming developments are summarised below.

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Learning from jurisdictions overseas and IICSA research

Much work has already been completed in jurisdictions outside of England & Wales about preventing and responding to child sexual abuse (“CSA”). Tomorrow (12 April) the IICSA is holding a seminar about best practice overseas to coincide with the publication of a report by the University of Central Lancashire on the same topic. The seminar will be held at the International Dispute Resolution Centre, London and is open to the public to attend.

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Inquiries update: progress and developments

The various inquiries connected with sexual abuse of children have now had a period of making progress. Recent and expected developments are summarised below.

Independent Jersey Care Inquiry

The final report from the Jersey inquiry was due to be available within the first quarter of 2017. However, it has recently been announced that publication will be delayed for a short period.  This is due to some new information being made available to the panel in relation to Phase 3 of the enquiry dealing with recommendations for the future of childrens’ care in Jersey. A revised publication date has yet to be confirmed.

IICSA

The first hearings in the Children Overseas – Child Migration investigation have been held. A number of child migrant witnesses gave oral evidence along with the Inquiry appointed experts. The organisations involved in child migration will give their evidence at a hearing starting on 10 July. A further preliminary hearing will be held on 9 May.

The Victims & Survivors Consultative Panel (VSCP) has published revised Terms of Reference. The Panel has seven members who will advise the Inquiry on its engagement with victims and survivors; its communication with the public; share their expertise and knowledge in developing the work of the Inquiry; and advice on the formulation of recommendations. The VSCP has published a report on its work to date.

A second preliminary hearing in the Accountability & Reparations Investigation will be held on 28 March. There are five case studies within that investigation and a timetable is anticipated for evidence and hearings in those five case studies.

The Department of Sociology at Lancaster University has been commissioned by the Research Project to prepare a rapid evidence assessment of what is known about the characteristics and vulnerabilities of victims of online-facilitated child sexual abuse and exploitation. Anyone wishing to contribute material to this research is requested to provide materials by 28 April 2017.

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

The SCAI has now published a number of administrative guides to explain how it will operate. These include protocols for the provision of witness statements and other evidence and for anonymity and other restriction orders. Factsheets explaining what the SCAI will do when it is told about abuse and disclosure of allegations have also been produced.

Royal Commission, Australia

As noted in our earlier blog the RC is producing many publications as it moves to its final report. In the last two weeks it has published the following:

  • A research report which considers the recruitment and support of carer in out-of-home care which includes foster care, kinship care and residential care settings
  • A research report which looked at the current services and facilities focused on child sexual abuse prevention. This concluded that there was a lack of co-ordination between the various organisations working in this area.

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Written by Paula Jefferson, partner and abuse claims expert at BLM

The Royal Commission – Australia’s Inquiry – an update

As Australia is the news through the IICSA child migrant investigation, the work being undertaken by the Royal Commission (RC) in considering issues relating to abuse across many different organisations in Australia should not be forgotten. We summarise below its most recent work, much of which is of relevance irrespective of the jurisdiction in which an organisation finds itself.

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Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week

This week (6-12 February) is Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week. The subject of abuse has certainly remained in the news over the past few days and a summary of some of the last week’s news topics shows how this is an issue which remains a challenge for many organisations. Ensuring safety of children now must be accompanied by regard for what has happened in the past and crucially what lessons can be learned for the future.

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