Executive Summary

Introduction

The Letters Patent provided to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse require that it ‘inquire into institutional responses to allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse and related matters’.

Under paragraph (d) of the Terms of Reference we are given in the Letters Patent, we are required to inquire into:

what institutions and governments should do to address, or alleviate the impact of, past and future child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, including, in particular, in ensuring justice for victims through the provision of redress by institutions, processes for referral for investigation and prosecution and support services. [Emphasis added.]

Police and public prosecution agencies are also ‘institutions’ within the meaning of the Terms of Reference, and they are entities through which governments can act in relation to institutional child sexual abuse. These factors mean that they are directly relevant to our consideration of paragraphs (a) to (c) of our Terms of Reference, which focus on preventing and responding to institutional child sexual abuse.

The Royal Commission has now formed concluded views on the appropriate recommendations in relation to criminal justice.

Our concluded views have been informed by the significant input we have obtained in relation to criminal justice issues from a broader range of sources, including private sessions, public hearings, an issues paper, public and private roundtables, and information obtained under summons. We have also commissioned a number of research projects to inform our criminal justice work.

On 5 September 2016, the Royal Commission published the Consultation paper: Criminal justice (the Consultation Paper). We received a wide range of submissions in response to the Consultation Paper. In November and December 2016, all six Commissioners sat for the public hearing in relation to issues raised in the Consultation Paper.

Responses to the Consultation Paper and the public hearing have helped to inform our final recommendations on criminal justice, which are contained in this report.

As recognised in the Letters Patent, while we have not specifically examined the issue of child sexual abuse and related matters outside institutional contexts, the recommendations we make in this report are likely to improve the response to all forms of child sexual abuse in all contexts.