Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

On Friday 11 January 2013, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, appointed a six-member Royal Commission to investigate Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission will inquire into how institutions with a responsibility for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse. It will investigate where systems have failed to protect children, and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse in institutions.

The Commissioners can look at any private, public or non-government organisation that is, or was in the past, involved with children, including government agencies, schools, sporting clubs, orphanages, foster care, and religious organisations. This includes where they consider an organisation caring for a child is responsible for the abuse or for not responding appropriately, regardless of where or when the abuse took place.


The Royal Commission’s first issues paper on Working With Children Checks has attracted 55 submissions from around Australia so far. A Working With Children Check is a pre-employment screening process to determine a person’s suitability to work with children.

Chief Executive Officer, Janette Dines, said the Royal Commission was pleased with the response.
“Some common views were expressed,” said Ms Dines:
They include:

  • the need for national consistency in the operation of the Working With Children Check
  • the need for more research to determine what elements of existing schemes are most effective; and
  • the need to consider the Working with Children Check as only one element in a broader framework for protecting children.

The Royal Commission is still seeking submissions on its third issues paper dealing with the creation of child-safe institutions. A fourth issues paper on preventing the sexual abuse of children in out-of-home care will be released next week.

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