Royal Commission into child sex abuse off to a good start
UnitingCare Australia has welcomed the release on January 11 of the terms of reference and names of the commissioners who will lead the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Speaking shortly after the Federal Government’s announcement, UnitingCare Australia National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds said the broad expertise of the six commissioners should ensure a professional and balanced approach to the essential work of the Commission.
“In our submission, we argued for the appointment of more than just one commissioner, saying a broad range of expertise was needed to deal with the volume of work that this issue will generate, in order that the Commission can deliver results in a timely manner,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“We said the scope of the commissioners’ experience should include legal and judicial expertise, an understanding of the legal structures of the institutions that will be the subject of the inquiry, including church legal structures, and of the governance of social services and independent schools.
“We also called for child welfare and child rights expertise to be represented on the commission.
“It is encouraging to see the Commission’s interim report will be delivered within 18 months and that the duration of the Commission has been left open, depending on the recommendations of the interim report.
“Regarding the terms of reference, UnitingCare Australia welcomes the establishment of an interim investigative unit. While it will not, and should not, have the power to prosecute, it will establish protocols for liaison with police and will make policy recommendations to government about how to better protect children.
“UnitingCare Australia commits its full support to this historic inquiry. We stand ready to work with the Commission on this important work.”
The UnitingCare network provides social services to over two million people each year in 1,300 sites in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. UnitingCare employs 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers.