Hundreds report sex abuse to royal commission
By Amanda Banks
May 01, 2016
|Bindoon Farm School has been the subject of the royal commission.|
More than 320 WA institutions have been reported to the royal commission into child sex abuse, which has held almost 600 private sessions to hear the stories of WA victims.
Details of the extent of the commission’s investigations in WA were revealed yesterday as the inquiry announced it had been so inundated with requests for private sessions that it had set a September 30 cut-off for applications from people wanting to tell their story.
Commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan said demand for private sessions, which started almost three years ago, had exceeded expectations and showed no signs of easing.
Nationally, the commission has spoken to 5111 people who have told their stories of sex abuse in institutions. It has accepted another 1544 people who are in a queue for private sessions. Over the past year, an average of 37 people a week sought the private hearings.
There have been 599 private sessions in WA, including hearings in Perth, Bunbury and the Kimberley, and another 121 people are registered and waiting for their hearing.
Justice McClellan said unless the commission closed applications before its final report was due in December next year, people seeking a private session could be left disappointed. He said information provided by survivors had been critical to informing the commission’s investigations and would provide a foundation for many of its final recommendations.
“The commissioners recognise that for individuals who have been traumatised by sexual abuse, giving an account of their experiences and telling their story to a commissioner is, for many survivors, an important part of their personal journey,” Justice McClellan said.
He said no applications for private sessions would be accepted after September 30 and there would be no exceptions, but the commission would continue to accept written submissions after September 30.
“I know this will mean some people will be disappointed,” he said. “For that, the commissioners are sorry.”
Justice McClellan said the commission recognised there would be a continuing need for people to tell their story and wanted any redress schemes to include the chance for survivors to do so to an appropriate person.