Royal Commission report a landmark in keeping Australian children safe
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has welcomed the final report of the Royal Commission in to Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which was handed down today.
The report is a ground-breaking, no-holds-barred examination of historical and contemporary child abuse in Australian institutions, and makes critical recommendations for both preventing future abuse and supporting victims.
Ms Palaszczuk congratulated the Commission on its exhaustive examination of institutional abuse and its causes and effect, which Commissioner Justice Peter McClellan described yesterday as a “national tragedy”.
“This report is an important opportunity to acknowledge the devastating and harrowing experiences of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and the efforts of all that provide support to them,” the Premier said.
“The Commission, like the Queensland Forde Inquiry 20 years ago, has shone a light on the horrific treatment of so many children in institutions that were intended to provide them with care and protection.
“I have personally met with many survivors and I thank them for their bravery and courage in sharing their harrowing experiences.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the Queensland Government would carefully consider the Commission’s recommendations, identify opportunities for reform and make improvements to prevent institutional child sexual abuse.
“The report makes 409 recommendations directed at how we can address failings that have led to abuse,” she said.
“I have already announced our intention to ensure stakeholders are engaged in the reforms arising from the Royal Commission.
“We will continue to consult broadly with survivors, interest and advocacy groups and the broader community to ensure that we get these reforms right.
“I am pleased that a number of reforms that go to the heart of the Commission’s recommendations have either already been implemented or are underway in Queensland.”
Minister for Child Safety Di Farmer said the report went to the heart of how society needed to treat and value children.
“The findings of this Royal Commission will drive us even further in our efforts to make our institutions safer and better,” Ms Farmer said.
“The survivors of abuse who told their stories to the Commission have shown tremendous bravery and I thank them for their courage in coming forward and making a real difference for Australia’s current and future children.”
Ms Farmer said ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all Queensland children was a top priority of the Queensland Government and its ongoing reform program would be informed by the Commission’s recommendations.
“The Palaszczuk Government has delivered significant reform and funding to reform the child and family support services that assist parents and families with the right service at the right time,” she said.
“We have developed minimum qualification standards for all workers that provide support to children who have been harmed or are at risk of harm.”
Ms Farmer said work was continuing on a new Reportable Conduct Scheme to ensure appropriate oversight for organisations providing services to children, ensuring all allegations of inappropriate conduct are investigated.
“The Queensland Family and Child Commission recently completed a review of Queensland’s Blue Card and Foster Care systems, taking in to account the Commission’s recommendations,” she said.
“Reforms underpinned by these reviews will see Queensland lead the nation in keeping children safe.”
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said important work had already been carried out to improve legal protections for children and victims of abuse.
“The Queensland Government has increased funding and introduced new laws to better equip police to tackle serious and organised crime, including child exploitation, passed new laws to help police prevent recidivist child sexual offending and implemented a sexual assault counselling privilege,” Ms D’Ath said.
“The statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse has been removed and new government guidelines for responding to civil litigation involving child sexual abuse have been released.
“The Palaszczuk Government is working closely with the Federal Government and other states and territories on development of a national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse as recommended by the Commission.”