On December 15 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse will hand down its recommendations after a five-year inquiry. This historic occasion presents a landmark opportunity for Australian governments and relevant institutions to capitalise on the ground-breaking work of the Royal Commission to effect real change through legislation, policy, and resourcing that will provide for the support and best response for survivors, and for the prevention and early intervention of child sexual assault in our communities.
The Commissioners have heard from thousands of survivors, victim advocacy and support groups, researchers, counselling and support practitioners, legal practitioners, and institutional and government representatives; consulting widely on where institutions and our systems have failed children and young people. The reports and recommendations delivered by the Royal Commission have been produced through a process of extensive consultation and considered review of the systemic failures and challenges that have prevailed in the way we have responded to this crime. Lasting three Prime Ministers, the Commission has been a game-changer for survivors of child sexual abuse. For so long so many have been silenced by the shame, silence and secrecy of the horrible crimes that happened to them.
The Royal Commission kick-started a national discussion about what child sexual abuse is, its impact on children and young people and the adults they become. The impact of the Royal Commission for so many is such an amazing public statement that victims are not alone, that there are people who understand and can support them; and more importantly that acknowledgement that what happened to them was wrong and not their fault.
Over the coming months, Bravehearts will develop detailed responses to the recommendations and disseminate targeted issues papers and actively liaising with governments and relevant institutions. For Bravehearts and the survivors, families and supporters who we advocate for, the handing down of the Royal Commission’s final report is only the beginning of the next important stage of change.