What the Royal Commission discovered?


Final Report from the Royal Commission

Five years of investigations.


Many people have bravely come out and spoken long held secrets and pain.  Their stories have been critical to our understanding of the magnitude of the problem that we have not seen visibly until now. Please take the time to understand the findings and recommendations so you can be part of the important conversations that must take place, the decisions that must be made and the future that must change for the better. 

Case Studies from the Royal Commission The Royal Commission’s report and recommendations will have far reaching implications across multiple sectors in our society, with direct implications for any agency working with children or indirect contact with children including education, sports, foster care, employment, policing, legal, and insurance. 

In addition to many recommendations, the implementation and operation of the Commonwealth Redress Scheme, a key aspect of a comprehensive response by Governments to the Commission, have implications directly impact on any agency funded by State or Federal governments.  This professional development event will be the first chance services, agencies, professionals, psychologists / social workers, legal, medical and other services workers will have to hear directly from Commissioner Fitzgerald after the delivery of the Commission to Parliament in Late 2017


A national scandal exposed


Except from the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse,

"There has never been a nationwide study of child sexual abuse in Australian institutions. Significant delays in reporting, high levels of under-reporting and a lack of consistent data are some of the significant challenges researchers face.

However, we have analysed the information obtained in private sessions, which may provide some useful indicators. It reveals:

  • ninety per cent of perpetrators were male
  • on average, female victims were nine years old and male victims 10 years old when the abuse started
  • on average it took victims 22 years to disclose the abuse, men longer than women.

We do not yet know how prevalent abuse has been or continues to be within institutions. In an attempt to understand the prevalence of abuse our research program is compiling data from the police, child protection agencies, education departments and other bodies. Although many instances of abuse reported to us occurred some years ago, the information we have gathered and the public hearings we have conducted confirm that abuse remains a contemporary issue.

We understand that although many people have come forward to the Royal Commission, it is likely that they represent only a minority of those abused. Many others are yet to disclose their abuse or, for various reasons, feel unable to come forward at this time.


3.2 Institutions

To understand why abuse occurs in an institutional context we need to know more about the structure and management of institutions where it has occurred.

To assist our understanding of these issues we have commenced by identifying the broad range of institutions that have contact with children. These include government agencies, private companies, churches, faith-based and community organisations delivering out-of-home care, childcare, education, sporting, recreational and cultural activities for children.

We have researched the history of children in care to understand how institutions operated when the child safe practices or child protection laws of today did not exist. This will enable us to identify whether changes that have occurred have been effective in minimising abuse. It may also help us to understand why perpetrators have abused children in institutional care.

The research is also helping us develop recommendations for best practice in the future structure and management of institutions.



Calls Handled

near 8,000

People contributed



Letters and emails received


institutions identified

On Average Female Victims were 9 YEARS OLD and Males 10 years old

Institutional responses to reports - except from the Royal Commission Summary


Many institutions take their responsibility to appropriately respond to reports of child sexual abuse seriously. Yet many others have failed to respond to reports, or if they have responded, have done so ineffectively. We are examining:

  • the key elements of an effective institutional response
  • the obstacles to an effective response
  • how these obstacles can be eliminated or reduced.

5.3 Justice for victims

The Letters Patent require us to consider justice for victims.

There are three avenues that may provide justice for victims, namely:

  • the criminal justice system
  • civil litigation
  • redress schemes.

An effective criminal justice system is important in providing justice for many victims. We are reviewing the manner in which allegations are investigated and offenders are tried and sentenced. This requires considering the approach in each of the Australian states and territories. It is a complex but essential review.


We are seeking to understand whether civil litigation is effective in providing justice for victims. Important issues – including limitation periods, the proper defendant, vicarious liability and the level of damages – will be considered.

We are also reviewing redress schemes. A number of institutions have advocated a national scheme; How it would work, and who would fund and administer it are complex issues. The level of any financial compensation must also be considered.

Redress schemes and civil litigation are being considered as a matter of priority and will be the subject of a separate report in mid-2015. Our review of and recommendations about the criminal justice system will also be contained in a later report.



From the Royal Commission into Child Abuse:

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What are the Effects of child abuse on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders?


"The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse commissioned the Telethon Kids Institute to collaborate on a report examining the question of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s past and contemporary vulnerability to child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. The research team was guided and supported by the advisory group and the Royal Commission’s Aboriginal Knowledge Circle.

The report addresses the following questions developed by the Royal Commission and advisory group:

  • In the past, were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at risk of sexual abuse in institutions?
  • What have been the impacts of past racist legislation, policies and practices on the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and in turn the risk of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being placed in contemporary institutions?
  • In the present day, are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at risk of sexual abuse in institutions?

This research draws on multiple sources of evidence.

The research team drew on the substantial expertise, knowledge and experience of the advisory group. The research team and advisory group worked together in an iterative process of reviewing material and filling gaps in existing evidence. While the research team could only draw on material that has been documented and evidenced, they acknowledge that there is much evidence that is oral and much work needed to be done to overcome the inherent bias in the kinds of accounts that make up the historical evidence base. Both the advisory group and the Aboriginal Knowledge Circle provided cultural governance over this project and were also critical in contributing their knowledge of oral histories so that the researchers could go back and look for documented evidence of events.

The research team also reviewed national and state inquiries that addressed, in whole or part, the past and present vulnerability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to physical, emotional and sexual abuse."

More and the Report


Join with the many who are helping us make this change happen