Funding for the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse

Budget Review 2013–14 Index

Monica Biddington

In November 2012, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced the establishment of a Royal Commission into institutional responses to instances of child sexual abuse. This followed allegations from a senior police officer in New South Wales that the Catholic Church covered up evidence involving paedophile priests.[1]

On 11 January 2013, the Governor-General appointed a six-member Royal Commission to investigate Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission).[2] The Royal Commission will inquire into how institutions with responsibility for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse. It will investigate where systems have failed to protect children, and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse in institutions.

The Royal Commission commenced its operations in April 2013.[3] The number of hearings and the level of complaints and allegations are not yet clearly established and these factors will have an impact on the budget for administering the Royal Commission.[4] In future, the Government will need to review the need for changes to the funding in consultation with the Royal Commission.

The Government will provide $434.1 million over four years (including $66.8 million in 2012‑13 and $43.2 million in capital funding) to fund the Royal Commission.[5] Capital funding includes the construction of offices, hearing rooms and witness support facilities across Australia. Funding to the Attorney-General’s Department for financial assistance for witnesses to the Royal Commission of $20.032 million per year from 2013-14 to 2015-16 will be provided.[6] The funding also includes $45.0 million over four years from 2012‑13 for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to provide expert services to help support survivors of child sexual abuse.[7]

[1].       J Gillard (Prime Minister), Announcement of Royal Commission, transcript of press conference, 12 November 2012, accessed 16 May 2013. See also Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), ‘Gillard launches Royal Commission into child abuse’, ABC website, accessed 15 May 2013.  

[2].       Further information can be found in the joint press release, Government formally establishes Royal Commission, of 11 January 2013 issued by the Prime Minister, the Attorney‑General and the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

[3].       Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, About the Royal Commission, Royal Commission website, accessed 15 May 2013.

[5].       Australian Government, Budget Strategy and Outlook: budget paper no.1: 2013-14, accessed 15 May 2013, p. 1-44 and Australian Government, 'Part 2: Expense measures', Budget measure: budget paper no. 2: 2013-14, accessed 16 May 2013.

[6].       Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2013-14; budget related paper no. 1.2: Attorney-General’s Portfolio, p. 28, accessed 15 May 2013.

[7].       Australian Government, 'Part 2: Expense measures', Budget measure: budget paper no. 2: 2013-14, op. cit., and   Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2013-14: budget related paper no. 1.6: Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Portfolio, p. 45, accessed 15 May 2013.

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