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The 25th Anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

The 15th of April 2016 marks 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final report, which set many directions in current Indigenous policy. The commission was established in 1987 by the Hawke government, and examined 99 Indigenous deaths in custody between 1 January 1980 and 31 May 1989. The key finding of the Royal Commission was that the deaths were due to the combination of police and prisons failing their duty of care, and the high numbers of Indigenous people being arrested and incarcerated. Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners did not have different death rates.  Read more...

Priests, Penitents, Confidentiality and Child Sexual Abuse

In the light of Prime Minister Gillard’s announcement of a Royal Commission into institutional responses to the sexual abuse of children there has been a particular focus on the role of the ‘confessional seal’. The Roman Catholic practice whereby communications made in the confessional are treated as absolutely confidential has been hotly debated, in particular whether this doctrine forms an inappropriate impediment to the appropriate investigation and treatment of cases of abuse.The issue of evidence of child sexual abuse within the confessional seal arises in three different contexts: mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse, evidence to be given in legal proceedings, and evidence befo... Read more...

A Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual assault

General awareness of the levels and different forms of child abuse and assault has heightened in recent years. In response to growing levels of concern, on 12 November 2012, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced the Government’s intention to establish a Royal Commission specifically examining ‘institutional responses to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse in Australia’. The terms of reference are yet to be determined, but the recently released consultation paper states that the Royal Commission will be asked to identify what can be done to prevent child abuse in the future, and where it does occur, that organisational responses are just and supportive of survivors. The pap... Read more...

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