Legislation to Assist Royal Commission
Thursday, 14th February 2013 at 10:23 am
The Federal Government has introduced legislation to amend the Royal Commissions Act 1902 to assist the workings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The amendments will allow one or more of the six Royal Commissioners to conduct hearings. The Royal Commissions Act currently only permits hearings to be conducted by all members of a multi-member Commission or by a quorum.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says the amendment will assist the Commission to distribute its hearing work efficiently where this is appropriate.
“The other purpose of the Bill is to allow the Commissioners to receive information from those affected by child abuse at less formal ‘private sessions’,” Dreyfus said.
“For many, telling their stories of child sexual abuse will be very traumatic and these private sessions will mean that people affected by this crime can voluntarily participate in the Royal Commission in a less formal setting than a hearing.
“People attending a private session would not be required to give evidence under oath, and their information would be used in a way that did not disclose their identity. The Commissioners could also authorise people to support a person attending at a private session.”
The Federal Government announced the Royal Commission in November 2012 saying that Not for Profits are to be included in the broad scope of the inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia.
“The Royal Commission is as much about assisting victims of past abuse to be heard, as it is about investigating systemic failures to prevent future abuse,” Dreyfus said.
“The proposed amendments will provide similar protection to participants who give information at a private session as would apply if they were giving evidence at a formal hearing.”
For more information on the Royal Commission, led by Justice Peter McClellan AM, call 1800 099 340 or go to www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au.