Statements of a acknowledgment
the Commonwealth Government issue a formal statement acknowledging, on behalf
of the nation, the hurt and distress suffered by many children in institutional
care, particularly the children who were victims of abuse and assault; and
apologising for the harm caused to these children.
all State Governments and Churches and agencies, that have not already done so,
issue formal statements acknowledging their role in the administration of
institutional care arrangements; and apologising for the physical,
psychological and social harm caused to the children, and the hurt and distress
suffered by the children at the hands of those who were in charge of them,
particularly the children who were victims of abuse and assault.
Addressing legal barriers
State Governments review the effectiveness of the South Australian law and
consider amending their own statutes of limitation legislation to achieve the
positive outcomes for conducting legal proceedings that have resulted from the
amendments in the South Australian jurisdiction.
in recognising the difficulty that applicants have in taking civil action
against unincorporated religious or charitable organisations, the Government
examine whether it would be either an appropriate or a feasible incentive to
incorporation, to make the availability of federal tax concessions to
charitable, religious and not-for-profit organisations dependent on, or
alternatively linked to, them being incorporated under the corporations act or
under state incorporated associations statutes.
the Commonwealth Government examine the desirability and feasibility of
introducing whistleblower legislation for the not-for-profit religious and
the Commonwealth Government establish and manage a national reparations fund
for victims of institutional abuse in institutions and out-of-home care
settings and that:
- the scheme be funded by contributions from the
Commonwealth and State Governments and the Churches and agencies
- the Commonwealth have regard to the schemes already in operation in
Canada, Ireland and Tasmania in the design and implementation of the above
- a board be established to administer the scheme, consider claims and award
- the board, in determining claims, be satisfied that there was a
'reasonable likelihood' that the abuse occurred;
- the board should have regard to whether legal redress has been pursued;
- the processes established in assessing claims be non-adversarial and informal; and
- compensation be provided for individuals who have suffered physical,
sexual or emotional abuse while residing in these institutions or out-of-home
Internal Church redress processes
all internal Church and agency-related processes for handling abuse allegations
- informal, reconciliation-type processes be available whereby complainants
can meet with Church officials to discuss complaints and resolve grievances
without recourses to more formal processes, the aim being to promote
reconciliation and healing;
- where possible, there be independent input into the appointment of key
personnel operating the schemes;
- a full range of support and other services be offered as part of
compensation/reparation packages, including monetary compensation;
- terms of settlement do not impose confidentiality clauses on complainants;
- internal review procedures be improved, including the appointment of external appointees independent of the
respective Church or agency to conduct reviews; and
- information on complaints procedures is widely disseminated, including on
the Commonwealth establish an external complaints review mechanism, such as a
national commissioner for children and young people who would have the power
- investigate and mediate complaints received by complainants dissatisfied
with Church processes with the relevant Church authority;
- review the operations of Church sponsored complaints mechanisms to enhance
transparency and accountability;
- report annually to the Parliament on the operation of the Churches'
complaints schemes, including data on the number and nature of complaints; and
- publicise the existence of Church-sponsored complaints mechanisms widely
throughout the community.
the Churches and agencies publish comprehensive data on all abuse complaints
received to date, and then subsequently on an annual basis, and that this
- numbers of complainants and type of complaints received;
- numbers of Church/agency personnel involved in complaint allegations; and
- amounts of compensation paid to complainants.
information on the above matters be provided annually (including any reasons
for non-compliance) to the national commissioner for publication in a
consolidated form in the commissioner's annual report.
the Commonwealth Government seek a means to require all charitable and
church-run institutions and out-of-home care facilities to open their files and
premises and provide full cooperation to authorities to investigate the nature
and extent within these institutions of criminal physical assault, including
assault leading to death, and criminal sexual assault, and to establish and
report on concealment of past criminal practices or of persons known, suspected
or alleged to have committed crimes against children in their care, by the
relevant authorities, charities and/or Church organisations;
And if the requisite full cooperation is not received, and failing full
access and investigation as required above being commenced within six months of
this Report's tabling, that the Commonwealth Government then, following
consultation with state and territory governments, consider establishing a
Royal Commission into State, charitable, and church-run institutions and
out-of-home care during the last century, provided that the Royal Commission:
- be of a short duration not exceeding 18 months, and be designed to bring
closure to this issue, as far as that is possible; and
- be narrowly conceived so as to focus within these institutions, on
- the nature and extent of criminal physical assault of children and young
persons, including assault leading to death;
- criminal sexual assault of children and young persons;
- and any concealment of past criminal practices or of persons known,
suspected or alleged to have committed crimes against children in their care,
by the relevant State authorities, charities and/or Church organisations.
Location, preservation, recording
and access to records
government and non-government agencies holding records relating to care
leavers, implement and fund, as a matter of priority, programs to find,
identify and preserve records including photographs and other memorabilia.
all government and non-government agencies immediately cease the practice of
destroying records relating to those who have been in care.
all State Governments and non-government agencies, which have not already done
- provide dedicated services and officers to assist care leavers in locating
and accessing records, both government and non-government; and
- compile directories to assist in the locating and accessing of records
relating to care leavers and the institutions into which they had been placed.
a dedicated information and search service be established in each State and
- develop a complete register of all records held by government and
- provide assistance to care leavers to locate and access records;
- provide advocacy and mediation services to care leavers accessing records;
- ensure that all agencies holding records identify, preserve and make
available all surviving records relating to care leavers and the institutions
that housed them.
all government and non-government agencies agree on access guidelines for the
records of all care leavers and that the guidelines incorporate the following:
- the right of every care leaver, upon proof of identity only, to view all
information relating to himself or herself and to receive a full copy of the
- the right of every care leaver to undertake records searches, to be
provided with records and the copying of records free of charge;
- the commitment to a maximum time period, agreed by the agencies, for the
processing of applications for viewing records; and
- the commitment to the flexible and compassionate interpretation of privacy
legislation to allow a care leaver to identify their family and background.
all agencies, both government and non-government, which provide access to
records for care leavers, ensure adequate support and counselling services are
provided at the time of viewing records, and if required, subsequent to the
viewing of records; and that funding for independent counselling services be
provided for those care leavers who do not wish to access services provided by
a former care agency.
the Commonwealth request the Council of Australian Governments to review all
Federal and State and Territory Freedom of Information regimes to ensure that
they do not hinder access by care leavers to information about their childhoods
Advocacy and support groups
the Commonwealth fund a national conference of service providers and advocacy
and support groups with the aim being to establish a professional national
support and advocacy body for care leavers; and that this body be funded by the
Commonwealth and State Governments and the Churches and agencies.
the Commonwealth and State Governments and Churches and agencies provide
on-going funding to CLAN and all advocacy and support groups to enable these
groups to maintain and extend their services to victims of institutional abuse,
and that the government and non-government sectors widely publicise the
availability of services offered by these advocacy and support groups.
of support services
all State Governments, Churches and agencies provide a comprehensive range of
support services and assistance to care leavers and their families.
all State Government funded services for care leavers be available to all care
leavers in the respective State, irrespective of where the care leaver was
institutionalised; and that funding provisions for this arrangement be arranged
through the Community and Disability Services Ministerial Council.
all State Governments, Churches and agencies fund counselling services for care
leavers and their families, and that those currently providing counselling
services maintain and, where possible, expand their services including to
regional areas. The counselling services should include:
- the extension of specialist counselling services that address the
particular needs of care leavers;
- their provision to clients on a long-term or as required basis; and
- the provision of external counselling as an option.
specialist higher education courses be available for the training of health
professionals in areas related to the particular psychological and psychiatric
effects of institutional abuse.
care, housing and aged care programs
the Commonwealth and State Governments in providing funding for health care and
in the development of health prevention programs, especially mental health,
depression, suicide prevention and drug and alcohol prevention programs,
recognise and cater for the health needs and requirements of care leavers.
the Department of Health and Ageing fund a pilot program under the Aged Care
Innovative Pool to test innovative models of aged care services focussing on the specific needs of care
the Home and Community Care program recognise the particular needs of care
leavers; and that information about the program be widely disseminated to care
leaver support and advocacy groups in all States.
the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program recognise the particular needs
of care leavers; and that:
- data on the usage of the Program by care leavers be collected; and
- information about the Program be widely disseminated to care leaver
support and advocacy groups in all States.
the Commonwealth and State Governments widely publicise the availability of
adult literacy and numeracy services and associated adult education courses to
care leavers and care leaver support groups.
State Governments investigate options for alternative entry pathways to higher
education courses for ex-residents of institutions and their children.
the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the States, develop procedures for the
collection of data on people who have been in care on forms that are already
used to elicit client information such as Medicare and Centrelink forms and
admission forms to prisons, mental health care facilities and aged care
Commonwealth and State programs across a range of social policy areas,
including health and aged care and social welfare services generally,
explicitly recognise care leavers as a sub-group with specific requirements in
the publications and other material disseminated about programs.
of government approach to program and service delivery
the Commonwealth and the States commit, through the Council of Australian
Governments, to implementing a whole of government approach to the provision of
programs and services for care leavers across policy areas such as health,
housing and welfare and community services and other relevant policy areas.
through memorials and exhibitions
the Commonwealth and State Governments, in conjunction with the Churches and
agencies, provide funding for the erection of suitable memorials commemorating care
leavers. Where possible, memorials could take the form of:
- memorial gardens constructed in conjunction with local councils;
- the placement of plaques at the site of former institutions; and/or
- the construction of heritage centres on the site of former institutions.
The Committee further recommends that the appropriate form and location of
memorials should be determined after local consultation with care leavers and
their support and advocacy groups.
the National Museum
of Australia be urged to consider establishing an exhibition, preferably
permanent, related to the history and experiences of children in institutional
care, and that such an exhibition have the capacity to tour as a travelling
the Commonwealth Government provide funding for the National Library of Australia to undertake an oral history project to collect the
life-stories of former residents in
institutional and out-of-home care.
the Commonwealth Government fund research either though the Australian Institute of Family Studies or other relevant research body or university into the following areas:
- historical research into institutional care, including the role of
institutional care in Australia's social history; the history of institutions
and the commissioning of personal histories of
- the social and economic impact and cost of institutional care; and
- inter-disciplinary research into the relationship between child
welfare/child protection and areas such as welfare dependency, social problems
such as drug and alcohol abuse and family relationship breakdowns.
the Australian Institute of Family Studies National Child Protection
Clearinghouse be funded by the Commonwealth Government to collect publications
related to historical studies of institutional and other forms of out-of-home
care and that this information be widely disseminated.
the Commonwealth, in co-operation with State Governments, establish courses of
study at selected tertiary institutions that focus on child protection and
related issues, especially early childhood and family studies, psychology,
conflict management, the impact of institutional care and social policy to
address issues in these areas.