Inquiry Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-government Organisations
- Alternative Names
- Betrayal of Trust
- Inquiry Type
- Parliamentary Inquiry
- Australia; Victoria
- 1950s - 2010s
- Period of investigation
- April 2012 - November 2013
- Period of operation
- 17 April 2012
- Announcement date
- 19 October 2012 - 3 June 2013
- Public hearings
- 13 November 2013
- Final Report
The Inquiry examined processes by which religious and other non-government organisations respond to the criminal abuse of children by personnel within their organisations. The Terms of Reference included consideration of practices, policies and protocols for handling allegations, measures put in place by organisations in response to concerns and the exposure of abuse; how organisations can prevent criminal abuse; and the existence of systemic practices to preclude or discourage reporting of abuse. The Inquiry was charged with making recommendations for changes needed to help prevent or deal with allegations of abuse.
The Inquiry received written submissions, held public and private hearings, and conducted inhouse research.
Reference under Section 33(1)(b) of the Parliamentary Committees Act 200
Australia; Victoria; Melbourne, with additional hearings in Bendigo, Geelong and Ballarat.
106 public hearings.
56 private hearings.
The inquiry received 450 written submissions (325 from victims and family members), comprising 305 public, 38 name-withheld and 107 confidential. Three submissions were later withdrawn. It also accepted 92 supplementary submissions.
Researchers in the Secretariat conducted a literature review and accessed archival organisational files.
36 survivors (or family members of victims); 25 experts, 13 representatives of survivor support organisations, 28 institutional representatives; 5 government.
Victim/survivors 27 male, 8 female gave evidence.
The Inquiry examined religious organisations (15 submissions, 9 witnesses), schools (3 submissions, 3 witnesses), other institutions (4 submissions, 3 witnesses), sporting clubs (1 submission, 1 witness) and community organisations (5 submissions, 5 witnesses). There is a particular focus on the Catholic Church, the Salvation Army and the Anglican Church. Institutions investigated were both single sex and mixed.
The Inquiry found that organisations were aware of abuse in the past but their responses to it were motivated by self interest and the protection of the organisation rather than the safety and rights of the children.
15 recommendations were made. Key recommendations include reforms to the criminal law, improved access to civil litigation, establishment of independent redress mechanism, monitoring responses in the future and the creation of child safe environments.
The Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other non-government organisations was influential in the decision to establish the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Directly influential in establishment of Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
- Family and Community Development Committee, Betrayal of trust: inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other non-government organisations, Victorian Government Printer, Victoria, 2013. Also available at http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/fcdc/article/1788. Details
- State Government of Victoria, Betrayal of Trust Fact Sheet, 2018. Also available at https://assets.justice.vic.gov.au/justice/resources/ea484f74-feb7-400e-ad68-9bd0be8e2a40/failure_to_disclose_betrayal_of_trust_factsheet_2017.pdf. Details
- 'Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse prompts push to make abuse silence a crime', Herald Sun, 13 November 2013. Also available at http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/victorian-parliamentary-inquiry-into-child-sex-abuse-prompts-push-to-make-abuse-silence-a-crime/story-fni0fit3-1226758782356. Details
- Cassin, Ray, 'Victoria's path to child sex abuse prosecution', Eureka Street, vol. 23, no. 22, 2013, pp. 6-8. Also available at http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=730489560755687;res=IELLCC. Details
- Death, J., 'Bad apples, bad barrel: Exploring institutional responses to child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Australia', International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, vol. 4, no. 2, 2015, p. 94‐110. Details
- Marr, David, 'Child Abuse Report Reveals a Betrayal of Trust "Beyond Comprehension"', Guardian Australian Edition, 13 November 2013. Also available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/13/child-abuse-report-reveals-a-betrayal-of-trust-beyond-comprehension. Details
Acknowledgement: this summary was prepared by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University