Child abuse victims rushed

The Government has announced that stakeholders will have just one week to make submissions to the Royal Commission into institutionalised child abuse in Australia about which issues should be investigated and how information should be shared.

The Government promised to involve victims groups as it decided the terms of reference for the Royal Commission, but it has only given them seven days from Monday 19 November to put submissions together.

As MP David Shoebridge said, “[t]he Government promised to consult with victims groups about the terms of reference and that’s good … But one week, given these victims groups are already being swamped with new assistance claims, is really insufficient for them to come to terms with it …We’re better off spending a bit of time so we don’t spend three years asking the wrong question.”

These submissions will shape the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, and the Government has been accused of rushing this initial stage, especially after announcing that the Royal Commission would itself not have a deadline.

If you or someone you know is interested in making a submission, you can fill out the submission form and send it via email to: [email protected] or by post to: Secretariat, Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, PO Box 6555, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

All submissions are due by close of business, 26 November 2012 (next Monday)

Comment – A week is not enough

I feel quite strongly that this is not a good beginning to the Royal Commission into institutionalised child abuse in Australia. To put it simply, one week is not enough.

It was made clear very early on that this Royal Commission would not be given a deadline. Some complained, saying that it could stretch on for as long as ten years, as a similar inquiry in Ireland did. But not giving the Australian Royal Commission into child sexual abuse a deadline was an important step – it acknowledged that a terrible thing had happened to many people over many years, and that we don’t really know or understand the scope of what has happened and is still happening.

So to only give victims groups seven days to write and submit suggestions for the scope of this Royal Commission, suggestions which will shape the way the Royal Commission is conducted, is incredibly disrespectful. It doesn’t take into account the vast number of stories which need to be told, or the people who need more than seven days to write what is potentially a very emotionally charged submission.

Should victims groups put their heads down and stop complaining, or is the Government out of line by only giving them a week to shape the Royal Commission?

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