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Royal Commission Report on Redress and Civil Litigation

Royal Commission report on redress and civil litigation released today

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s report on redress and civil litigation was released today.

In the report, the Royal Commission recommends that ‘in order to provide redress under the most effective structure for ensuring justice for survivors, the Australian Government should establish a single national redress scheme’.

The Redress and civil litigation report contains 99 recommendations aimed at providing justice to victims of child sexual abuse in institutions.

“We became aware early on that redress was a matter of priority to survivors of child sexual abuse,” said Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed.

“Many people have been profoundly harmed by their abuse; their injuries are sometimes severe and can last a life time. Current and past systems have not provided justice for many,” he said.

The report contains recommendations in relation to the provision of effective redress for survivors through the establishment, funding and operation of a single national redress scheme and the provision of a direct personal responses to survivors by institutions.

“It also contains recommendations for reforms to make civil litigation systems more effective in  providing justice for survivors,” said Mr Reed.

Mr Reed said the report’s recommendations have been informed by wide and thorough consultation.

“This includes private sessions where Commissioners have heard directly from survivors, public hearings, issues papers, private roundtables, consultations and information obtained under summons.”

The Royal Commission received formal submissions from more than 250 organisations and individuals to its consultation paper on redress and civil litigation released in January, many of whom spoke to their submissions in a public hearing held in March.

Mr Reed said that by reporting early, the Royal Commission seeks to give survivors and institutions more certainty on these issues.

“It also enables governments and institutions to implement our recommendations to improve civil litigation for survivors as soon as possible.”

Recommendations on redress contained in the report cover key elements of redress including the provision of a direct response, counselling and psychological care, and monetary payments. They also cover how redress should be provided including structure and funding.

Recommendations on civil litigation cover limitation periods and the duty of institutions.

The full report is available here:

Royal Commission releases report into the Melbourne Response

The Royal Commission’s report of Case Study 16 – the Melbourne Response was released today. The Melbourne Response is the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s process for responding to those who have been sexually abused by priests, religious and lay persons within the Archdiocese of Melbourne. It was announced by the then Archbishop Pell in 1996.

The report of Case Study 16 follows a public hearing into the Melbourne Response held in August last year.

At the public hearing the Royal Commission heard evidence from a number of people with direct experience of the Melbourne Response including Christine and Anthony Foster, whose daughters Emma and Katie were sexually abused at the Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Oakleigh.   The Fosters gave evidence of their experience with the Melbourne Response from 1997 and the approach taken by the Archdiocese to legal proceedings the Fosters instituted after becoming dissatisfied with the Melbourne Response.

The Royal Commission also heard evidence from Mr Hersbach and Mr AFA who went through the Melbourne Response in 2006 and 2011 respectively.

Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hart gave evidence that the three components of the Melbourne Response – the Independent Commissioners, Carelink and the Compensation Panel – operate independently of the Archdiocese and each other. The Commissioners found that the Melbourne Response is not sufficiently independent of the Archdiocese of Melbourne in its operation and each element is not necessarily independent of the others.

The legal advisers to the Archdiocese also provided services to the Independent Commissioner, Carelink and the Compensation panel.  Documents created as part of the Melbourne Response were held by the lawyers who acted for the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

The Commissioners state in the report that this raises a clear potential for conflict and difficulties with confidentiality.

The Commissioners are satisfied that Mr O’Callaghan QC, one of the Independent Commissioners of the Melbourne Response, provided advice about the police process to Mr Paul Hersbach and Mr AFA that discouraged them from going to the police.

The Commissioners expressed the view that advice on the approach that the police might take to any prosecution, and the likely outcome, should be left to the police.

Cardinal Pell told the Royal Commission that while he was developing the Melbourne Response, he was aware that work was also being undertaken through the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the National Committee for Professional Standards to develop Towards Healing – a national response.

Cardinal Pell accepted that introducing the Melbourne Response when he did had the effect that Towards Healing, which was approved a few weeks later, was not a national response.

The report states that a consequence of this is that like complaints may not be treated in a like manner and consistency of outcome may not be achieved. For example, there was no stated cap of the amounts which might be provided under Towards Healing while the Melbourne Response had a stated initial cap of $50,000.

This case study raised a number of systemic issues in particular the role of the institution in a redress scheme. The Royal Commission’s report of redress was also published today.

The full report can be read here:



Betrayal of Trust

Please note that the Victorian Government has released “A Victorian redress scheme for institutional child abuse: Public Consultation Paper”. This consultation paper follows from the recommendations of Betrayal of Trust that suggested government should consider creating an alternative way for survivors of institutional child abuse to bring claims of abuse against institutions, instead of requiring people to bring their claims to court.

It is important that we provide our views to the Victorian Government on their consultation paper on redress as it may inform later discussions with the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments on redress.

Submissions for the “A Victorian redress scheme for institutional child abuse: Public Consultation Paper” are due by the 5 October 2015. The Centre will prepare a submission on this paper and we are keen to hear your views to inform our submission to government by the 18 September 2015. Please feel free to contact Mary Kyrios on 90943508 or to discuss.



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