Just over five years ago, the Julia Gillard leadership announced the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Courageous individuals – victims, journalists, lawyers and campaigners – came together to take on the powerful institutions that committed unquestionable acts of abuse and concealment. Years of investigations culminated earlier today, when the Royal Commission released its final report, containing 189 recommendations for change.
“The Royal Commission’s findings and recommendations handed down today are reflective of how the Royal Commission has conducted itself over the last five years,” says Shine Lawyers’ National Abuse Law Practice Leader, Lisa Flynn. Not only are the recommendations detailed and comprehensive, but most importantly, they’re informed by the experiences of the courageous survivors who came forward to share their stories.
One of those victims was Lee Powell.Lee suffered severe abuse throughout her childhood years in Parramatta Girls Home and was one of the many brave survivors to give evidence at the Royal Commission.
Just over a week ago, Lee’s civil case with Shine Lawyers for compensation settled. She’s now looking forward to purchasing her very first home. But for Lee, it wasn’t the money that mattered most. It was a letter she received from the NSW Government, a letter saying sorry.
Although the release of the Royal Commission’s final report brings closure and relief for many victims, the fight for justice isn’t over.It’s now time for governments to act fast and implement the hundreds of recommendations handed down.
“Importantly, they have recommended that the Australian government set up a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse,” says Lisa Flynn, which includes the establishment of a national office for child safety. “We call on the government to do that without any delay.”
The recommendations don’t only focus on protecting future generations from acts of abuse. They also emphasise the importance of providing much-needed care and support for victims, endorsing dedicated community support services and repeating recommendations for a national redress scheme to provide financial support to the victims who, without their incredible courage, the dark secrets of these institutions would remain forever untold.
Lisa Flynn is the National Practice Leader of Shine Lawyers' Abuse Law department. She represents individuals who have suffered abuse, giving them a voice and the opportunity to have their stories told.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: January 7, 2020.