Australia’s Royal Commission inquiry into institutionalised child abuse cases.
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.
People who attended a private session had the opportunity to tell Commissioners about their experience of sexual abuse in institutional contexts. Survivors were not asked to describe the abuse they had experienced, and so the information presented is drawn from what participants volunteered during private sessions.
The 5 most common places where abuse was reported;
|Schools (Catholic & Public)||2,521||31.6%|
|Recreation, sports and clubs||482||6.0%|
|Health and allied||221||2.8%|
Overall the commission heard from in 8,013 private sessions, held between May 2013 and November 2017. During the five-year inquiry:
- 16,953 people contacted us who were within our Terms of Reference
- we heard from 7,981 survivors of child sexual abuse in 8,013 private sessions
- we also received 1,344 written accounts
- we have referred 2,562 matters to police.
The survivors of child sexual abuse
- the average age of survivors at the time of their private session was 52 years.
- The youngest survivor to attend a private session was seven years old.
- The oldest survivor was aged 93.
Of the 7,981 survivors we heard about in private sessions:
- almost two in three survivors were male survivors (63.6 per cent). More than one in three were female survivors (36.1 per cent)
- 9 per cent of survivors identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- 2 per cent of survivors identified as having disability at the time of abuse
Of the survivors The Commission heard from in private sessions:
- 93 per cent told The Commission they were abused by one or more male adult perpetrator or child with harmful sexual behaviours. 10.7 per cent said they were abused by one or more female adult perpetrator or child with harmful sexual behaviours. Some survivors told The Commission they were abused by both a male and female person
- of those survivors who provided information about the age of the perpetrator, 85.2 per cent said they were abused by an adult perpetrator and 23.4 per cent told The Commission they were abused by a child with harmful sexual behaviours. Some survivors told The Commission they were abused by both an adult perpetrator and a child with harmful sexual behaviours.
The vast majority of survivors told The Commission about the role of the perpetrator (95.3 per cent). Of these survivors:
- 8 per cent said they were abused by a person in religious ministry and 20.4 per cent said they were abused by a teacher
- 5 per cent told The Commission they were abused by a residential care worker and 11.3 per cent told The Commission they were abused by a foster carer
- some told The Commission they were abused by custodial staff (5.7 per cent), a dormitory master/housemaster (5.6 per cent), ancillary staff (4.3 per cent), a medical practitioner or nurse (3.8 per cent), a volunteer (2.9 per cent), a youth group leader (2.8 per cent) and a sporting coach (2.2 per cent).
Nature of the abuse
In private sessions, Commissioners were told about the nature of abuse experienced by survivors.
- The average age of victims when first abused was 10.4 years. For male victims it was 10.8 years and for female victims it was 9.7 years.
- 7 per cent of survivors told The Commission they were abused in a single institution, while 21.4 per cent said they experienced abuse in multiple institutions.
- 9 per cent of survivors provided information about the frequency of the abuse. Of those, most (85.4 per cent) told The Commission that they experienced multiple episodes of abuse, while 20.7 per cent told The Commission that they experienced a single episode of sexual abuse. Of those who told The Commission about multiple episodes of abuse, some said they were abused by one person while some said that they were abused by multiple people.
- Where information about the forms of abuse experienced was provided (86.1 per cent), 71.4 per cent of survivors told Commissioners they experienced non-penetrative contact abuse. Over half of survivors (55.7 per cent) said they experienced penetrative abuse. Male survivors were more likely to tell The Commission about non-penetrative contact abuse than female survivors (74.1 per cent and 66.6 per cent respectively). However, female survivors were more likely to tell The Commission about penetrative abuse than male survivors (63.1 per cent and 51.5 per cent respectively).
- Other forms of sexual abuse mentioned by survivors included grooming and entrapment (24.1 per cent), violation of privacy (23.5 per cent), exposure to sexual acts and material (12.5 per cent) and child sexual exploitation (2.7 per cent).
- Almost three in five (57.8 per cent) survivors told Commissioners that they experienced other forms of maltreatment in addition to sexual abuse. Of these survivors, 80.4 per cent told The Commission they experienced emotional maltreatment. Survivors also said they were subjected to physical abuse (63.1 per cent), witnessed the abuse of others (16.9 per cent), were neglected (14.9 per cent) or forced to work (10.3 per cent).
For more info visit: https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has now concluded.
Any enquiries relating to the Royal Commission, including access to records, should be directed to the Attorney-General’s Department.
To make a complaint about the Royal Commission contact the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
National Redress Scheme
The National Redress Scheme will begin on 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation). In the meantime, you can find information about the scheme at www.dss.gov.au/redress or the National Redress Information Line on 1800 146 713.
Finding help and support
The work of this Commission, and particularly the stories of survivors, may bring up many strong feelings and questions. Be assured you are not alone, and that there are many services and support groups available to assist in dealing with these. Some options for advice and support are listed below:
Lifeline – Call 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention