Lawyers have paid tribute to the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, saying governments and institutions could not delay any longer in acting on today’s final recommendations and in seeing through the Royal Commission’s critical work.
Maurice Blackburn head of Abuse Law Michelle James said with the release of the Commission’s final report today after five years of inquiry, it was now incumbent on governments and institutions to step up, including ensuring a redress scheme consistent with findings of the Commission was put in place urgently for survivors.
“Today brings to a close a significant chapter in Australian history, and at long last there has been genuine recognition of the abuse suffered by thousands of children over decades in some of our most well-known churches and institutions,” Ms James said.
“The ball is now squarely in the court of the Federal Government, states and territories, churches and not-for profit institutions to act on the Royal Commission’s final recommendations – not a single day can be wasted in ensuring that Australian children are kept safe.
“After five years of inquiry and decades of inaction, we must now see a response that has teeth, the Royal Commission has laid a road map for reform and it is incumbent on governments and institutions to act on this urgently.
“In particular we welcome the Commission’s recommendation today to establish and fund a legal advice and referral service for victims and survivors of abuse. Countless organisations, including knowmore, have done an exemplary job in supporting abuse survivors, and their continuing role will be critical now the Commission is complete.
“States and territories must also now sign up to the national redress scheme without further delay, as without state and territory participation, institutions cannot also enter the scheme.
“Any final redress scheme must also remain consistent with the recommendations of the Royal Commission – disappointingly the scheme announced by the Federal Government falls short on this, including reduced capped amounts for damages and denying survivors an ability to also bring a civil claim in addition to accessing the redress scheme.
“We must get this scheme right – survivors have waited long enough and there can be no more excuses – governments owe it to survivors to act quickly on finalising this scheme and in making sure it is consistent with what was outlined by the Royal Commission.
“Once a final scheme is established, the Federal Government must also be using every lever possible to ensure compliance from institutions – including ensuring that tax concessions, grants and registration is tied to these reforms so that institutions will act in compensating survivors appropriately.
“We thank the Royal Commission for its critical work and also the tireless campaigners who fought so hard for this inquiry, there is little doubt these efforts will change the lives of future generations of Australian children and it is now on our governments and institutions to honour that legacy in acting urgently,” she said.