Royal Commission calls for public responses

Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has requested community participation in its issues papers.

Working with Children Checks Issues Paper

The Royal Commission has released its first Issues Paper on the Working with Children Check and is seeking submissions from interested individuals and government and non-government organisations by 12 August 2013.

Royal Commission CEO Janette Dines said that Working with Children Checks are a type of screening process used to determine if a person is suitable to undertake child related work. Each state and territory has its own procedures and requirements. "We want to hear what the public thinks about these schemes" Ms Dines said.

Ms Dines said that this is the first in a series of Issues Papers relevant to the Royal Commission’s terms of reference. Individuals as well as government and non-government organisations have until 12 August 2013 to lodge a submission.

"What the public says in response to Issues Papers will help the Royal Commission to identify best practice that will prevent and better respond to incidents of child sexual abuse in the future" said Ms Dines.

The Working With Children Check Issues Paper is available on the Royal Commission’s website.

Submissions can be emailed to or posted to GPO Box 5283, Sydney NSW 2001.

Listen to an interview or read a transcript of interview with the Royal Commission CEO Ms Janet Dines on this topic, on ABC’s The World Today program

Participation in Towards Healing

The Royal Commission has released its second Issues Paper, Towards Healing and is seeking submissions from interested individuals, institutions, government and non-government organisations about the content and operation of Towards Healing by 4 September 2013.

The Catholic Church’s formal policies and internal procedures for dealing with sexual abuse allegations is now under scrutiny by the Royal Commission.

The Towards Healing protocols were introduced in 1996 to help the church handle complaints and compensation claims from victims of abuse by clergy.

The Royal Commission is calling for public comment on how well those internal processes have worked.

Towards Healing was born out of an acknowledgement by the Catholic Church in Australia that it needed a policy and a process for handling sexual abuse allegations. But since it was introduced in 1996 it’s not escaped controversy or criticism.

Francis Sullivan is from the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, which is coordinating the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission.

FRANCIS: The good and the bad, the warts and all need to be laid out because ultimately the royal commissioners are going to recommend best practice principles for all institutions, not just the Catholic Church.

EMILY BOURKE: He says Towards Healing has been the subject of two external reviews and undergone significant changes.

FRANCIS SULLIVAN: The most important point here is that it’s a pastoral response when people approach the church. It’s not a substitution for a legal criminal response.

EMILY BOURKE: There is though that compensation aspect to the Towards Healing process.

FRANCIS SULLIVAN: Yes, yes of course. The church also realises that people are damaged and they need some type of compensation and ongoing support by way of a settlement. (excerpt from ABC Radio AM Program, 10 July 2013)

The Towards Healing Issues Paper is available on the Royal Commission’s website.

Submissions can be emailed to or posted to GPO Box 5283, Sydney NSW 2001.