Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse: Terms of reference and Commissioners announced


The terms of reference for the Royal Commission into institutional responses to instances of child sexual abuse were announced by Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, on 11 January 2013.

The Royal Commission will be led by the Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM. Justice McClellan has most recently been the Chief Judge at Common Law of the Supreme Court of NSW.

The Government has also appointed five other Royal Commissioners:

  • Mr Robert Atkinson APM, former Queensland police commissioner;
  • The Hon Justice Jennifer Coate, who has recently appointed a Judge of the Family Court of Australia and who served for 20 years as a magistrate and County Court judge in Victoria;
  • Mr Robert William Fitzgerald AM, who is a commissioner in the Productivity Commission;
  • Dr Helen Mary Milroy, who has extensive experience in child and adolescent health; and
  • Mr Andrew James Marshall Murray, former Western Australia Democrat senator.

All Commissioners will be appointed for three years and will provide an interim report within 18 months.

For more information about the Commissioners click here

The Government said the selection of Commissioners and the terms of reference were finalised after extensive discussions with state leaders, law enforcement agencies, support groups and community leaders.

The terms of reference specifically ask the Commissioners to consider what action governments and institutions should take to provide "redress" to victims of past and future sexual abuse.

What the Commission will cover What the Commission will cover

The Royal Commission will commence work immediately on establishing the process for calling for, processing and receiving submissions. Information about how the submission process will operate will be available on the Commission’s website as soon as it is determined.

The terms of reference put an end date on the Royal Commission of 31 December 2015, but that could be extended.

For news and information about the Royal Commission, including submissions, hearings and support services click here

Catholic Church responds

The CEO of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, said the Church welcomed the appointment of commissioners and reaffirmed its commitment to fully cooperate and engage with the Royal Commission and its deliberations.

“At its heart, the Royal Commission needs to let the full truth come out and ensure that the dignity of those who have been damaged by these atrocities is preserved, that they are supported, and not subject to a reliving of their experiences,” Mr Sullivan said.

“It is essential that the Commission’s process contribute to the healing of the victims, and assist them to process what has happened.

“The Church stands ready and willing to assist in any way that is deemed effective.

“Apart from participating fully in the Commission, the Church will embark on its own processes of atonement and healing to bring light, hope and compassion to this very dark episode.”

Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta

When the Royal Commission was announced on 12 November 2012, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta, said the Church would cooperate fully with the Royal Commission.

“I know I speak for our entire Catholic community when I say that our hearts go out to the victims of child sexual abuse, the ‘little ones’ whom Christ most loves, and to their families,” Bishop Anthony said.

“Sexual abuse is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We are ashamed of past failures and determined to do better.

“I encourage all victims of abuse to contact the police. Other support is available to victims and their families via CatholicCare Parramatta counselling tel 02 9933 0233.”

To read Bishop Anthony’s statement in full click here here

To read the statement from the Catholic Church in response to the Royal Commission click here here

Truth, Justice and Healing

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) support the establishment of the Royal Commission. Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the ACBC, and Sr Annette Cunliffe RSC, Chair of CRA, have reiterated the Church's desire to openly embrace the Royal Commission and cooperate with its work.

The Hon Barry O'Keefe AM QC and Mr Francis Sullivan will be chair and CEO respectively of the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, which will include representatives from the community to provide expertise, wisdom and guidance over the course of the Royal Commission.

The Council will comprise men and women with professional and other expertise and importantly will seek to have an effective ongoing relationship with people who have been damaged by the sexual abuse scandal.

For more information about the Truth, Justice and Healing Council click here here

To read the Bishops’ statement in response to the Royal Commission click here here

Policies and statements

The Diocese of Parramatta strives to promote the safety and protection of children and other vulnerable persons in its care.

To access the diocesan Complaints policy click here

To access the diocesan Child Protection Policy click here

Catholic Education Parramatta Child Protection Information Line for current parents and former students: 1300 661 015. For more information click here

Support services

CatholicCare Parramatta Counselling Support: 02 9933 0233

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Mensline: 1300 789 978

NSW Victim Support: 1800 633 063

Crimestoppers NSW: 1800 333 000

For other services click here

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