Senate committee evidence, parliamentary privilege and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

If I gave evidence to a Senate committee inquiry into the experiences of people who were children in institutional care (the Lost Innocents and Forgotten Australians inquiries), how does that affect any evidence I might give to the Royal Commission?

The Royal Commission has access to all of the published evidence and information received by these Senate committee inquiries.  However, because of the law of parliamentary privilege, there are some limitations on the use the Royal Commission can make of this evidence. For example, people cannot be directly questioned on their parliamentary evidence but the Royal Commission can use this material to develop its own lines of inquiry, follow up things and independently pursue inquiries.

The Royal Commission cannot access the unpublished or in camera (confidential) material received by the Senate committees unless the Senate makes a specific decision to provide this material to the Royal Commission. If you provided a submission to a Senate committee that the committee treated as confidential, you should not provide the Royal Commission with a copy of your actual submission. However, you are free to prepare a new document for the Royal Commission providing the same information you gave to the Senate committee.

If you provided a Senate committee with documents that had a prior existence (for example your records from the institution) you can provide those documents to the Royal Commission and the Royal Commission can use those documents to help it to investigate matters and question witnesses.

If you require further information please contact the Senate Committee Office on 02 6277 3555.

Further information about the Royal Commission is available at: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse