Royal Commission Running out of Time to Hear Child Sex Abuse Victims

The Guardian
July 4, 2015

Justice Peter McClellan (centre, on bench), expects 7,000 private sessions will be held by the time the royal commission is completed in December 2017. Photograph:

The chair of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse is worried there will not be enough time for all victims to tell their story, despite a two-year extension to the inquiry.

Justice Peter McClellan says the royal commission has already held more than 3,600 private sessions since it began in April 2013.

Informal private sessions are held in conjunction with public hearings.

The sessions allow abuse victims to speak directly with the inquiry’s commissioners.

McClellan expects 7,000 private sessions will be held by the time the royal commission is completed in December 2017.

The inquiry’s original term was extended by two years in 2014 after it warned it needed more time and money.

“Whether this will be sufficient to enable everyone who wants to tell us their personal story to meet with a commissioner is uncertain,” McClellan said on Saturday.

“I am concerned that it may not be.”

The commissioner addressed a forum in Geelong for people abused in orphanages, children’s homes and foster care.

Organised by Care Leavers Australasia Network, the event marked 15 years of campaigning by the group for justice for those abused in institutions run by Australian churches, charities and governments.

It is unclear what the royal commission will do if there is not enough time for victims to recount first-hand their experiences of sexual abuse.

“It will not be long before we have to confront the issue and determine with government the appropriate response,” McClellan said.

He said one-third of all private sessions and 37% of all abuse allegations related to Catholic institutions.

The commission uses information from the private talks to determine which institutions it should examine publicly.

Private sessions will be conducted across all capital cities throughout July before public hearings resume on 27 July in Sydney.








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