What is this Royal Commission and why is it important?

The Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse has been active for three years now and has been the topic of many news stories.

The significance of the Royal Commission is in providing a voice for Survivors across Australia and educating our society as a whole on the damage which child sexual abuse causes. But that is not all, the Commission is investigating what institutions have done about complaints about child abuse, and most importantly, how they have failed to protect children from sexual abuse.

The evidence which has come out at the Royal Commission has shown that there are patterns to child sexual abuse in institutions and trends in how they have responded to complaints of child sexual abuse. The Royal Commission has inquired into 41 Institutions across Australia in Public Hearings so far.

The Royal Commission has highlighted that time after time, persons in positions of power and authority in Australia have failed to conduct enquiries and checks on its employees/members, failed to manage and supervise them while they worked with children, and ignored or disbelieved complaints of child sexual abuse against their employees/members.

But it is important not to get overwhelmed by the misconduct, neglect and injustice which pervades our past. We have to keep our eye on the target, and the target is to protect our children in the future.

What makes the Royal Commission so important is that it’s only purpose is to improve laws, policies and practices. It is focused on prevention and how we can protect our children in the future.

The Royal Commission is giving us the opportunity to not repeat our past mistakes and this is truly invaluable.

I feel privileged to do the work that I do because I bear witness to what happened to Survivors. The lesson is as old as they come. You can’t go forward until you can face the past. Helping Survivors to stand tall and force institutions and people to face what they have done, helps Survivors build a better future for themselves and their families.

Sherilyn Dunkley

Senior Associate



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