Now that the Final Report of the Royal Commission is published, it is time to revisit what two of our priests called to the Royal Commission have said:
"In response to questions from Commissioner McClellan, Fr Whelan said that the community has every right to challenge the Church and ask for changes; he described the Commission as “prophetic.” Fr Ranson said that the Church must have the humility to learn from the Commission, but noted that recommendations needed to be realistic and feasible, commenting that the Commission would not be able to change the structure of the universal Church. He said that the Commission’s work needed to be a catalyst for a continuing inquiry within the Church itself."
This is a cry from the heart to each one of us to be involved! For we each have to take on board in a very personal way, the challenge to ask our church for changes to the way in which it operates in our parishes and in our lives. We need to live humbly with the ramifications of the scandal of abuse that has occurred, and we need to seek out ways and pray for guidance to redress the violence that has been done to our brothers and sisters.
On 12 November 2012 the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced that she would recommend to the Governor-General that a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into institutional responses to child abuse.
Following this announcement, the Terms of Reference were established and six Commissioners were appointed on Friday, 11 January 2013 by Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM was the chair of the Royal Commission and worked with the five other Commissioners, Mr Bob Atkinson AO APM, Justice Jennifer Coate, Mr Robert Fitzgerald AM, Professor Helen Milroy and Mr Andrew Murray.
On 15 December 2017 the Royal Commission presented a final report to the Governor-General, detailing the culmination of a five year inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and related matters.
The Final Report structure is outlined below and all 17 of the individual volumes can be accessed on the Royal Commission website here
- Volume 1, Our inquiry introduces the Final Report, describes the establishment, scope and operations of the Royal Commission.
Understanding child sexual abuse in institutional contexts
- Volume 2, Nature and cause describes what the Royal Commission has learned about the nature and cause of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. It includes one recommendation.
- Volume 3, Impacts explains the impacts of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts on survivors and often on their family members, friends, and entire communities.
- Volume 4, Identifying and disclosing child sexual abuse describes what we learned about survivors’ experiences of disclosing child sexual abuse.
- Volume 5, Private sessions examines survivors' experiences of child sexual abuse as told to Commissioners during private sessions.
Child safe institutions
- Volume 6, Making institutions child safe describes the need for a national child sexual abuse prevention strategy and proposes child safe standards, including how they should be implemented. It includes 24 recommendations.
- Volume 7, Improving institutional responding and reporting looks at institutions' responses to complaints of child sexual abuse and how they report these matters to external government authorities. It includes 12 recommendations.
- Volume 8, Recordkeeping and information sharing examines the records, recordkeeping and information sharing of institutions that care for or provide services to children. It includes 23 recommendations.
Support and treatment
- Volume 9, Advocacy, support and therapeutic treatment services looks at what we learned about survivors' needs in terms of advocacy, support and treatment and offers recommendations for improving service systems to better respond to survivors' needs. It includes nine recommendations.
- Volume 10, Children with harmful sexual behaviours examines what we learned about institutional responses to children with harmful sexual behaviours. It includes seven recommendations.
- Volume 11, Historical residential institutions describes what we learned about survivors' experiences of, and institutional responses to, child sexual abuse in residential institutions pre-1990.
- Volume 12, Contemporary out-of-home care examines what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in contemporary out-of-home care. It includes 22 recommendations.
- Volume 13, Schools describes what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in schools. It includes eight recommendations.
- Volume 14, Sport, recreation, arts, culture, community and hobby groups looks at what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in sport and recreation contexts. It includes four recommendations.
- Volume 15, Contemporary detention environments reviews what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in contemporary detention environments. It includes 15 recommendations.
- Volume 16, Religious institutions examines what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in religious institutions. It includes 58 recommendations.
Beyond the Royal Commission
- Volume 17, Beyond the Royal Commission describes the impact and legacy of the Royal Commission and discusses monitoring and reporting on the implementation of our recommendations. It includes six recommendations.