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Frequently Asked Questions

The following information has been sourced from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the know more websites. If you have any other questions, contact us on 1800 998 187.

What is the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is a six-member panel that is investigating how institutions have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.

The panel was appointed on 11 January 2013 by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia: Her Excellency Quentin Bryce.

It is the job of the Royal Commission to uncover where systems have failed to protect children so it can make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices.

What is meant by an ‘institution’?

The word ‘institution’ in this context refers to any public or private body, association, club or organisation that has provided activities, facilities, programs or services for children, excluding courts. This includes government and non-government facilities, including state homes, orphanages, churches and sporting clubs.

What happens if I contact the Royal Commission but the Royal Commission determines that my information is outside the Terms of Reference?

If you contact the Royal Commission but the Royal Commission determines that your situation is outside the Terms of Reference, they will discuss this with you and, where necessary, discuss what other options are available to you. Where appropriate, they will offer you the contact details of law enforcement agencies, support services and other agencies and provide assistance in contacting these agencies.

Does the Royal Commission have the power to prosecute offenders?

Not directly. The Royal Commission can provide your information to law enforcement bodies however the information you provide will be kept confidential unless you agree to it being made public.

The Royal Commission can communicate information provided to it to law enforcement bodies. This could include information you provide in private sessions. The Royal Commission will ask you to agree to information you have provided being given to law enforcement bodies.

The Royal Commission will only disclose information you provide to a law enforcement agency, without first discussing the matter with you, if the Chair of the Royal Commission believes that is necessary to prevent harm to any person.

Will the Royal Commission grant compensation to survivors?

The Royal Commission does not have the power to make grants of compensation to individuals affected by institutional child sexual abuse. The Royal Commission can make recommendations about alleviating the impact of past child sexual abuse, but they cannot grant compensation.

What support is available to people affected by the Royal Commission?

The Government understands the painful and traumatic nature of remembering stories of childhood sexual abuse and as a result has funded free support services in all states.

Royal Commission Support Services is a free service provided by Relationships Australia (SA). This service is for people affected by the Royal Commission, family members and friends, as well as employees at institutions where abuse occurred.

We can help you to:

  • Understand the Royal Commission process
  • Tell your story to the Royal Commission
  • Access counselling and legal support

We can support anyone affected by the Royal Commission, even if you do not want to officially share your story.

I am affected by institutional child sexual abuse but I don’t want to officially engage with the Royal Commission. Can I still access counselling and support?

Yes. Royal Commission Support Services can provide counselling and support to anyone affected by the Royal Commission, including individuals, family members and friends, as well as employees of institutions where abuse occurred. You do not need to engage with the Royal Commission in order to access these services.

I am affected by childhood sexual abuse that occurred in the home. Can I still access these services?

Royal Commission Support Services is only for people affected by childhood sexual abuse that occurred in institutions. However, if the abuse did not occur in an institution, we can refer you to other counselling and support services.

Where can I go if I have any legal questions or concerns?

If you have legal questions or concerns about telling your story to the Royal Commission, you should contact knowmore, a free legal advisory service for people who would like legal advice either before, or at any point after, contacting the Royal Commission.

knowmore is a confidential, free legal advice service to help people navigate the Royal Commission.  knowmore has been established by the National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc with funding from the Australian Government. It is completely separate from the Royal Commission. It offers a free national advice line and where possible will see people in person as needed. It can help with:

  • Legal information and advice about the Royal Commission’s powers, procedures and guidelines and the range of options available for engaging with the Royal Commission
  • Advice on related legal issues such as the effect of confidentiality agreements in past proceedings and the availability of compensation
  • Help with writing statements and submissions

knowmore does not provide legal representation for people appearing before the Royal Commission but, if needed, can help you with finding suitable representation and to access funding for it.

knowmore’s staff includes lawyers, counsellors, social workers and Aboriginal liaison officers.

knowmore’s national free advice line is 1800 605 762.

Further information about the services knowmore provides can be found at: www.knowmore.org.au

  • Our staff at the AFCC 5th Annual Comference - Alienation? Myths, Complexities and Possibilities held in Adelaide to… https://t.co/9OQOn1Dh2J