Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
When the previous Federal Government announced there would be a Royal Commission into the way institutions across Australia had, and are, responding to child sexual abuse perpetrated by people within their organisations, the leadership of the Catholic Church, through the Bishops’ Conference and Catholic Religious Australia, fully backed the decision. On 16 November 2012, Bishop Peter Ingham released a public statement welcoming the Royal Commission.
The single, overarching, message that has been sent by Church leaders is that survivors must be heard, the truth must emerge and that the Royal Commission will have the Church’s full cooperation.
As part of the Church’s response, in late 2012, the Truth Justice and Healing Council (TJHC), led by Francis Sullivan, was established to coordinate the Catholic Church’s engagement with the Commission, to make recommendations on reforms within the Church to the way child sexual abuse is handled and to act as the Church’s public face during the life of the Commission.
Since mid-September 2013 the Royal Commission has been holding public hearings. Public hearings are formal hearings of the Commission which are open to the public. The hearings are presided over by Royal Commissioners. Counsel Assisting will call witnesses to give evidence and be examined. Evidence will be given under oath or affirmation. The witnesses may then be examined by persons with leave to appear.
The Catholic Church first appeared in December 2013 when four Towards Healing case studies were examined. Before the end of June 2014 the Church will have been involved in at least six public hearings.
The Diocese of Wollongong has been called to appear before the Commission in a public hearing, commencing Tuesday 24 June 2014 and continuing until Friday 4 July.
The following sections provide documents and links in relation to the Royal Commission especially with regards to the Diocese of Wollongong public hearing: