ACT commits to implementing Royal Commission recommendations

Joint Media Release: Andrew Bar, Chief Minister MLA and Gordon Ramsay MLA

The ACT Government will address each and every recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, working with the community to further develop a culture of child safety in the ACT.

Child abuse is unacceptable and appalling. All children and young people have a fundamental right to be safe and protected in their community, and to have a say in decisions that affect them.

The ACT Government acknowledges its responsibility to ensure that children are properly cared for, and to protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by institutions who look after them.

In light of the findings of the Royal Commission, it is clear that all entities that work with children, large and small, can no longer assume that child abuse won’t happen within their organisation.

The ACT has been actively engaged with the Royal Commission, and already undertaken significant reforms. Since that time we have removed time limitations on all claims for personal injury, both against institutions and individuals, and strengthened our criminal laws for prosecuting historic sex abuse cases, including by introducing a new offence for ongoing sexual abuse of a child and a new grooming offence.

The ACT has long been a leader in adopting survivor-focused criminal laws like those recommended by the Royal Commission. The use of pre-recorded evidence by survivors in child sexual assault trials was introduced in 2008, and has since been expanded to all sexual assault and family violence matters. The Royal Commission recommended all jurisdictions should pursue similar measures, which ensure that survivors are better supported to have a voice in the criminal process.

The ACT Government’s response to the Royal Commission is designed to change the status quo, to effect cultural change within organisations and to ensure the failures of the past are not permitted to continue.

307 of the Royal Commission’s recommendations were applicable to the ACT. We have accepted or accepted in principle 290 recommendations with 17 for further consultation.

Every reform we implement will focus on prioritising the needs and best interests of children, supporting cultural change within institutions to prevent child abuse occurring in the first place, and working with those who will be affected to ensure each improvement is tailor-made for the ACT.

Importantly, the ACT Government’s work on the Royal Commission’s recommendations does not begin with this formal response. We have been implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission since they began to be issued in 2015.

We are continuing to be responsive and vocal in implementing the Royal Commission’s final report. The ACT was one of the first jurisdictions to join the National Redress Scheme, and has already brought forward to expand its reportable conduct scheme to include religious institutions.

Criminal justice reforms improving support to vulnerable witnesses, the establishment of a Reportable Conduct Scheme, removing limitation periods for civil litigation and joining the National Redress Scheme are just a few examples.

As the ACT Government continues to implement recommendations from the Royal Commission, we urge non-governmental institutions operating in the Territory to follow our lead and implement the recommendations that have been set out for them.

The ACT Government’s formal response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations is now available at www.act.gov.au/childabuseroyalcommission. All opportunities to have your say on the implementation as it progresses will be at www.yoursay.act.gov.au/childabuseroyalcommission.

The work of the Royal Commission and the ACT Government’s response may bring up strong feelings and questions. Be assured you are not alone, and that there are many services and support groups available to assist. Some options for advice and support include 1800 Respect, Lifeline on 13 11 14 and the National Redress Information Line on 1800 737 377.

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