The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is one of four commissions or inquiries into sexual abuse and institutional failure currently being undertaken in Australia. We are pleased that the Royal Commission will focus on identifying what can be done in the future to prevent child sexual abuse, and to bring those who commit or cover up offences to account. We are particularly concerned that those who have been abused find providing evidence to the commissions and inquiries is personally helpful, and that they have access to effective counselling and support that also enhances their well-being.
Please see our page Guidelines for giving evidence to the Royal Commission for some suggestions about what to expect, possible personal reactions or responses that writing a statement might trigger, and how you might take time to look after yourself.
Challenges faced by Commissions and Inquiries
We welcome the commissioning of Federal and State inquiries focussing on investigating and addressing the problem of childhood sexual abuse. However we also recognise that heightened public discussion of sexual abuse can be distressing and triggering for anyone has been abused, whether they are a man or woman or abused in institutional, familial or community contexts.
One of the challenges the Royal Commission face is how to appropriately support those who have been sexually abused through what is a legal inquiry. The Royal Commission has identified in its Terms of Reference that “it is important that those affected by child sexual abuse can share their experiences to assist with healing…” Whilst we acknowledge that ‘it is important that those affected by child sexual abuse can share their experiences”, it is also important to recognise how the person is supported and responded to in making any disclosure will significantly influence their future coping and well-being (O’Leary, Coohey, & Easton, 2010; O’Leary & Gould, 2009; Foster, 2011). Although, we might hypothesise that the opportunity to “share their experiences’ is more likely to ‘assist with healing’, we know that if the process does not meet expectations, it is experienced as inappropriate or inadequate. This can impact negatively on mental health (O’Leary et al., 2010; See also Dateline).
There is clear evidence that questions about traumatic events, and the unhelpful responses that followed disclosure, will increase distress for those sexually abused. The various Commissions and Inquiries are therefore challenged to draw on current research and practice knowledge to develop interview processes and means of support that are more likely to contribute to healing (McMAckin, Newman, Fogler and Keane 2012; Courtois and Forde 2012). This will involve the Royal Commission both ensuring appropriate supported referral of witnesses to specialist practitioners and agencies. They will also need to take the time to create, adjust and refine the methods of interviewing and consultation so that the processes themselves contribute to enhanced personal well-being.
Living Well is committed to supporting the significant work of the Royal Commission. We are committed to developing practical, helpful resources that compliment the work of the Royal Commission. See details of our specialized services at the Royal Commission Community Based Services web page.
We encourage people to access and make use of the resources available on this website (check out our Guide for Men Booklet) that are designed specifically to assist men who have been sexually abused or sexually assaulted, to assist partners, family and friends and service providers.
Living Well: A Guide For Men is now available as a series of videos in Auslan, produced in cooperation with Deaf Services QLD.
Video by Deaf Services QLD
If you are deaf, are hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, contact us through the National Relay Services.
- TTY users phone 133 677 then ask for 07 3028 4648
- Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 07 3028 4648
- Internet relay users connect to the NRS via National Relay Service then type in 07 3028 4648
Anyone who would like to discuss their personal story or circumstances can also contact Deaf Services Queensland directly on (07) 3892 8500 via the National Relay Service, (07) 3892 8501 via TTY, or visit any one of our offices. Members of the community can visit one of our Community workers during Walk In times or by appointment if preferred to discuss a range of life matters at no cost.
Other pages on this site
- Free legal advice regarding the Royal Commission
- Royal Commission news
- Media reports and the Royal Commission: Taking care of yourself
Royal Commission links
- Fact sheet: Powers of a Royal Commission [ 53 kb]
- Plain English explanation of the Terms of Reference [ 66 kb]
First sitting of the Royal Commission
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Commission) held its first sitting at 10.00 am on Wednesday 3 April 2013 at the County Court of Victoria, 250 William Street, Melbourne.
All Commissioners were present. The Chair, Justice McClellan AM, provided information on the work of the Royal Commission including the future conduct of public and private hearings. Senior Counsel assisting also delivered an opening statement. There was no evidence taken at this first sitting.
- Review of allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence, conducted by DLA Piper, and the response of the Government to the report (Commonwealth Senate Committee).
- Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations (Victoria Parliament).
- Child Sexual Abuse Special Commission of Inquiry (NSW Parliament).