Child Abuse Royal Commission Seeks Extension
1 July 2014 at 11:11 am
The Federal Government has been asked to provide another $104 million and a further two years to complete the Royal Commission investigations into how institutions across Australia have responded to allegations of child sexual abuse.
The time extension would see the Commission complete its final report by December 15, 2017.
The request came in the release of the Interim report into The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Federal Parliament on Monday, June 30.
The report said the extension of time would allow for another 30 public hearings beyond the 40 anticipated by the end of 2015.
Commission Chair Justice Peter McClellan said in the report that the total budget for the Royal Commission was $281.13 million for the financial years 2012–13 to 2015–16.
“Given the size of the task set out in the Letters Patent we faced challenges in developing our operational capacity,” McClellan said.
“The Royal Commission is presently required to complete its work by the end of 2015. Having regard to the private sessions, public hearings, research and consultation that must be undertaken to complete the tasks required by the Letters Patent, the Commissioners are satisfied that more time is essential.
“The estimated cost of a two-year extension is $104 million. Although the Commissioners believe that the requested extension is essential, we do not believe that any further extension beyond December 2017 would be appropriate.”
The report said that at this stage of it’s investigations it could not provide any recommendations.
However it did point to a number of areas of concern in relation to institutional child abuse.
“Despite legal obligations to report, it is believed that child sexual abuse is significantly under-reported in Australia,” it said.
Reasons for this include:
• failure to identify children who have been abused;
• delayed disclosure by victims;
• reluctance of institutions to respond to allegations and report them to appropriate authorities.
“We are seeking to identify changes that should be made to facilitate disclosure by children and ensure institutions report allegations,” it said.
Truth Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis Sullivan has welcomed the release of the interim report saying the Commission must be given the time and resources it needs to complete its investigations.
Sullivan said the work of the Royal Commission must be allowed to continue until the Commissioners were fully satisfied the work was complete.
“This is a major social issue for our nation and we need the investment of both time and money to give the security to the community that institutions have been brought to account and victims have been given adequate time to tell their stories and to access support,” Sullivan said.
“To not finish the job properly and completely would be an insult to all the victims of abuse and one of the greatest lost opportunities of our generation.
“Governments around Australia must now back in the work of the Royal Commission with the establishment of a national compensation scheme for victims and nationally consistent child protection laws and standards of compliance for all government and non-government institutions.
“This is a once in a lifetime chance for the community to fully understand the devastation of child sexual abuse, its historic pervasion into so many different institutions and steps needed to ensure past tragedies are never revisited.
“Until the Commissioners and the broader community are satisfied that everything possible has been learnt about how institutions have responded to child sexual abuse allegations in the past and how children can be best protected in the future this Royal Commission must continue.”
The Truth Justice and Healing Council is coordinating the Catholic Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
For more information on the Royal Commission go to: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/