Inquiry Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Alternative Names
  • Child Abuse Royal Commission
Inquiry Type
Royal Commission

Key Dates

12 November 2012
Announcement date
11 January 2013 - 2017
Period of operation
3 April 2013 - 14 December 2017
Public hearings
30 June 2014
Interim Report
15 December 2017
Final Report


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse investigated how institutions like schools, churches, sports clubs and government organisations have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse. It was the largest inquiry held in Australia to date.

The Process
The Royal Commission conducted its investigation by means of public hearings, private sessions, roundtables, workshops, and an extensive research program.

Governing Legislation
The Inquiry was constituted by the Royal Commissions Act 1902, Royal Commissions Amendment Act 2013

Governing Authority
Commonwealth and state governments of Australia.

Inquiry Locations
The Royal Commission was based in Sydney and most public hearings were held in its Sydney offices. Hearings were also conducted in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne, Darwin, Hobart, Rockhampton, Ballarat, Newcastle, and Rome.

Public Hearings
Held at the locations above in conjunction with the case studies. The Royal Commission has identified 56 case studies.

Public Hearings Broadcast/Webcast
Public hearings were held at the locations above in conjunction with the 57 case studies undertaken by the Royal Commission.

Private Sessions
7981 survivors of child sexual abuse spoke at 8013 private sessions.

Case Studies
The Royal Commission examined a wide range of institutions in its case studies. These include the Scouts, YWCA, North Coast Children's Home, Salvation Army, Catholic Education Office, Toowoomba, Parramatta Girls Home and Hay Institution, St Ann's Special School, Christian Brothers, Perth, Marist Brothers, Canberra, Diocese of Woollongong, Swimming Australia, Retta Dixon Home, Australian Christian Churches, Bethcar Children's Home, Hutchins School, Satyananda Yoga Ashram, Yeshiva Melbourne, Knox Grammar School, St Joseph's Orphanage, Rockhampton, Health care providers, Catholic Diocese of Ballarat, Jehovah's Witnesses, Staterun juvenile and reception centres Victoria, Geelong Grammar School, Brisbane Grammar and St Paul's School, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Church of England Boys' Society, Hobart, Centre for Performing Arts, Sydney, Australian Defence Force, Disability service providers, Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Written Submissions
Over 1000 written submissions were received from victim/survivors. In addition former providers and other experts provided submissions in response to specific discussion papers.

Research commissioned from a number of universities and non-University based research organisations and subsequently published on the website. The research branch of the Royal Commission conducted its own research, some of which was published on the website.

Roundtable Discussions
Both public and private roundtables informed the case studies and the final report.

233 survivor witnesses gave evidence. The bulk of the witnesses at public hearings were representatives or previous employees of the institution being investigated and its governing authority. The other categories represented were police officers, lawyers for victims, family members of victims, convicted perpetrators and a small number of experts.

165 males and 68 females gave evidence at public hearings. The residential homes investigated comprised 28 male only, 6 female only, and 24 mixed.

The Royal Commission investigated 63 institutions or organisations, including children's homes, schools, religious organisations, community associations, army facilities, hospitals and a day care centre.

The report documented the nature and extent of child sexual abuse in institutional settings and sought to identify its causes, the barriers to reporting and the failure of institutions in responding when reports were made. It found that sexual abuse occurred in almost every type of institution where children resided of attended for education, recreational, sporting, religious or cultural activities and investigated changes that needed to be made to render such institutions safe for children in the future.

In total, over 400 recommendations were made. 189 recommendations were made in relation to measuring prevalence into the future (1), focusing on child safety (24), reporting institutional response and reporting (12), improving record keeping and information sharing (23), funding advocacy, support and therapeutic services for survivors (9), addressing the issue of children's harmful sexual behaviours (7), ensuring child safety in contemporary out of home care (22), schools (8), community groups (4), contemporary detention facilities (15) and religious institutions (58), and implementing change into the future (6). These were in addition to the earlier recommendations made in relation to Working with Children checks (36), redress and civil litigation (99) and criminal justice (85).

$500 million +


Final Reports

Journal Articles

  • Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain, Kathleen McPhillips, 'The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse', Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 74, 2017, pp. 1-9. Also available at Details



See also

Acknowledgement: this summary was prepared by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University