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Posted by on Jan 11, 2013 in In the news | 0 comments

Child abuse Royal Commission in Australia

The Letters Patent have now been issued relating to a Royal Commission in Australia into institutional child abuse – or, more accurately, “Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse”. The Letters Patent include the names of the commissioners to carry out this high-level government inquiry, which will operate nationally over about three years, as well as the terms of reference that they are to follow.

While the inquiry will undoubtedly look into actions by the Catholic Church and Catholic organisations, it goes far beyond that, seemingly covering the track records of all relevant “public and private institutions, including child-care, cultural, educational, religious, sporting and other institutions”. You might expect the commissioners to read “other institutions” to mean “other institutions that are of a comparable kind to those listed” (reading it ejusdem generis), but even if so it is very broad. It could cover public and private schools, sports clubs and teams of all kinds, and just about any other organisation you care to think of that is involved with children. In fact, there is a definition provided for “institution” that might even make it wider, if that were possible, and discourage any ejusdem generis arguments.

In short, this is going to be a long, comprehensive inquiry into the  sexual abuse of children in Australia. If it happens, or has happened in any sort of institutional context, this inquiry will want evidence about it.