Report and Response
Last Updated: Thursday, 08 May 2014 11:30
Government response tabled on Thursday 8 May 2014
The Government response to the report for the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations was tabled on Thursday 8 May 2014.
Government Response (1.27 Mb)
Final Report tabled on Wednesday 13 November 2013.
The Committee tabled its report in Parliament for the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations on Wednesday 13 November 2013.
The entire volume 1 can be downloaded here (PDF, 2.26MB).
Click on the links below to download the individual parts of volume 1.
- Terms of Reference
- Chairs foreword
- Executive summary
- Inquiry recommendations
- Inquiry findings
Part A – Introduction and process (PDF, 436KB)
Part B – Victims’ experiences, impacts and their pursuit of justice (PDF, 603KB)
Part C – Context (PDF, 700KB)
The entire volume 2 can be downloaded here (PDF, 4.01MB).
Click on the links below to download the individual parts of volume 2.
Part D – Prevention —Duty of care to create child‑safe organisations (PDF, 666KB)
Part E – Responding to reports and allegations of child abuse in organisations (PDF, 650KB)
Part F – Responding to reports and allegations of past child abuse in organisations (PDF, 670KB)
Part G – Law reform and criminal justice (PDF, 516KB)
Part H – Civil justice reform (PDF, 632KB)
Appendices (PDF, 1.36MB)
Last Updated: Monday, 18 November 2013 12:52
When will the final report be released?
The final report of the Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday 13 November 2013.
What does the final report look like?
The Committee’s role is to inquire into matters relevant to its terms of reference and then present back to the Parliament in the form of a written report. The report makes a number of findings based on the evidence gathered (from submissions, rights of reply, verbal evidence, research, requests for information and documents obtained from organisations). It also makes recommendations to the Parliament.
Once a report is ‘tabled’ or presented to the Parliament, the Victorian Government’s is required to respond to the recommendations in the Committee’s report within six months.
How can I get a copy of the final report?
An electronic copy of the report is available on the homepage of the Parliament of Victoria’s website www.parliament.vic.gov.au
If you have given evidence at a hearing or have made a written submission to the Inquiry, if we have your full mailing address you will be posted a hard copy of the report after it’s been tabled. If you would like to ensure we have your correct information then please send us your up-to-date contact details and include your
- Full name (incl title eg Mr, Mrs, Ms, etc)
- Mailing address – please ensure you remember to include the suburb and postcode
- Contact phone number
Post: Family and Community Development Committee, Spring Street, East Melbourne VIC 3002
If you did not give evidence at a hearing or make a written submission to the Inquiry but would like to register your interest in receiving a hard copy of the report, please send us your contact details (as above).
Given the number of people who will be receiving a copy of the report, it will take up to two weeks (possibly more, depending on the number of requests received) to get the hard copy reports in the post.
An accusation has been made against me, will I have the opportunity to respond?
Throughout the Inquiry, the Committee has been acutely conscious of the need to ensure that natural justice is accorded to all parties.
Where allegations have been made, the Committee seeks to verify information in a number of ways as appropriate. There has been a large number of emails, letters, meetings and phone conversations where the Committee has sought to verify, clarify or seek further information.
As a general proposition, one submission alone is unlikely to establish a sufficient basis to draw conclusions, particularly an adverse one. Accordingly, the Committee has ensured there are adequate reliable materials on which to make findings. This can sometimes be provided by a large number of independent credible submissions each supporting the same theme.
During the course of the Inquiry, the Committee has also given a number of individuals and organisations the opportunity to respond to allegations made against them, including at public hearings. Transcripts of all public hearings are available here.
Please note that the Inquiry is not undertaking a forensic investigation or looking at individual cases but rather is investigating systemic problems and failures.
Further information about the processed the Committee followed for right of reply submissions can be found here.
Why aren’t all accepted submissions automatically posted on the website?
The Committee has been focused on preparing its final report so it can meet its reporting deadline.
Every submission has been worked through from an investigatory, policing and legal perspective to analyse the content and appropriately deal with the information it provides to the Inquiry. Approving public and name withheld submissions for publication is a separate process which continues.
There are several possible reasons why a submission may not be published, for example:
- it may contain specific allegations or information relating to a current investigation or potential future investigation
- it may deal with information relating to current (or pending) matter before the courts
- submission has been made by someone other than the victims, where the victim has not consented to the information being made public
- it may require further review to ensure the Committee does not encroach on the responsibilities of investigatory agencies
- the information in the submission may lead to the identification of a minor (which is consistent with the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005)
- there may have been subsequent requests to make changes (including additions) to the original submission
- it may difficult to understand following extensive redactions due to multiple adverse reflections or inappropriate content in the submission
With such a large volume of material to work through it will take some time to complete the process. As the community would expect, the Committee has been focused on conducting a thorough inquiry, not a hasty one.
What are you looking for when reviewing submissions?
It is not within the terms of reference to investigate specific instances of abuse but rather to address how such cases were handled by various organisations. Specifically, the Committee seeks information which will assist to identify patterns of behaviour and provide insight into how the culture and processes of organisations either helped or hindered them to effectively deal with cases of abuse. Evidence relating to individual examples is crucial in the consideration of broader issues of how abuse was or was not effectively dealt with by organisations.
Although outside the terms of reference, the Committee recognises that it is important to follow up specific allegations of abuse to determine if they have previously been dealt with through the police and court process. Where the abuse has not previously been reported, the Committee has set up parallel processes to deal with these appropriately including protocols to refer matters to the Victims Support Agency and Victoria Police. With their permission, individuals will be contacted by appropriately qualified people who can talk to them about the support available and the steps involved in pursuing allegations further. For many individuals, providing a submission may be the first time they have disclosed the abuse inflicted on them and it is a key concern of the Committee that these disclosures are dealt with sensitively and appropriately by people with expertise in such matters.
Where evidence in some submissions falls outside the Inquiry’s terms of reference as the abuse happened interstate, the Committee is working with interstate agencies to ensure these people are also supported. Their submissions also provide useful background or contextual information to the Committee.
What happens if someone gives incorrect information to the Committee?
Any false or misleading evidence provided to a Parliamentary Committee is considered a contempt of Parliament which can have serious penalties.
How many witnesses have the Committee called to give evidence and how many submissions have you received?
The Committee has received 578 written submission including public, name withheld, confidential, supplementary and additional submissions requested by the Committee following in camera hearings.
162 hearing sessions have been conducted, 56 held in camera. This included hearing evidence from organisations from a range of religious and other non-government organisations in public hearings. The remaining hearings included sessions with victims, their families, whistleblowers, experts, and other professionals.
How many referrals have been made to Task Force Sano?
Victoria Police established Task Force Sano to investigate historic and new allegations that have emanated from this Inquiry. In total, the Committee has made 135 referrals to Task Force Sano.
What powers does the Committee have?
The Committee has substantial powers and privileges, the same or equivalent as a court, judicial inquiry or royal commission. It has the power to call for any witness to come before the Inquiry, to produce any and all documents and to answer questions relevant to the terms of reference. The Committee can issue a subpoena to require the attendance of any person before the Committee. The exercise of such powers is rare but the Committee will exercise them if necessary.
In addition, the Committee has powers relating to parliamentary privilege that extend beyond those of a court, judicial inquiry or royal commission. This is a key form or transparency, accountability and free speech in a democratic society and is unique to the Parliament. It allows members of Parliament and people presenting evidence to seek and speak the truth in a way that no other setting allows.
Click here for more information on parliamentary privilege.
How will information be shared between this Inquiry and the Royal Commission?
The Premier has said that the Victorian Government will work to appropriately bring together the work of the Parliamentary Committee’s Inquiry and the Federal Royal Commission.
Last Updated: Friday, 31 May 2013 15:22
Clarification on Parliamentary Privilege and the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse
The following information regarding the powers and privileges of the Parliament have been released to provide some guidance around how Parliamentary privilege will apply to the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations.
Please click on the link to download a PDF version the information below.
Parliamentary Privilege and the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse (221.70 Kb)
Parliamentary Privilege and the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse
The following information regarding the powers and privileges of the Parliament should provide some guidance around how Parliamentary privilege will apply to the Inquiry.
However, if a person is considering making a submission or appearing before the Committee and requires advice with respect to a specific matter, he or she should contact a legal practitioner as the Committee is not able to give specific legal advice. However, please note that a legal practitioner cannot represent a person called as a witness.
How does Parliamentary privilege apply to this Inquiry?
Parliamentary privilege refers to the special powers that ensure any proceedings, reports or documents published or accepted in camera by the Committee cannot be used in a court of law.
Statements which attract Parliamentary privilege, such as submissions and evidence given in hearings, may not form the basis of civil proceedings (including defamation or breach of confidence) or criminal proceedings (including proceedings for perjury) under any circumstances.
Parliamentary privilege and submissions
Parliamentary privilege applies to all things said in written submissions which have been accepted by the Committee.
There will be three types of submissions for this Inquiry.
- The name of the individual or organisation who made the submission will be published when the report is released to the public (tabled in Parliament).
- The Committee warns that Parliamentary privilege may not necessarily apply to reproduction of submissions on a website or forum other than the Committee’s.
- The Committee may accept a submission on a confidential basis when confidentiality is requested. This will generally be granted when people or organisations believe that giving evidence may have an adverse effect on them or their families.
- Confidential submissions will be used to inform Committee deliberations but will not be published or quoted in a report of the Committee.
Name withheld submissions
- Due to the sensitive nature of this Inquiry, the Committee will consider withholding the name of the individual or organisation who made the submission if revealing their identity would increase their vulnerability or cause distress.
- It may apply to people making submissions who would like the content of their submission to be made available publicly, but who do not want their identity known (such as victims of abuse) or who may suffer detrimental treatment from third parties because of the evidence they provide.
- The Committee will only publish those parts of the name withheld submission which do not contain specific allegations, and the parts of the submission which do contain specific allegations will be treated as evidence received or taken in private.
Parliamentary privilege and hearings
Parliamentary privilege applies to evidence given to the Committee in a public hearing and to all evidence taken by the Committee in private (in camera).
Frequently asked questions
I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement with an organisation as part of a settlement deal. Am I covered by Parliamentary privilege?
Any evidence accepted by the Committee is protected by Parliamentary privilege. This includes any submission accepted by the Committee or any evidence given during hearings.
What if I’m uncomfortable with my submission being made public and want it treated as confidential?
You may request that your submission be treated as confidential if you believe giving evidence may have an adverse effect on you or your family. Confidential submissions will be used to inform Committee deliberations but will not be published in either the report or on the website.
What if I want my identity protected but I want the contents of my submission to be made public?
The Committee will consider withholding the name of the individual or organisation who made the submission if revealing their identity would increase their vulnerability or cause distress. The Committee may hide information in the submission that identifies the author and will not publish parts of the submission that make specific allegations.
Who is covered by Parliamentary privilege?
Parliamentary privilege extends to people appearing before the Committee when giving evidence and making submissions, as well as to the Committee members.
What does Parliamentary privilege not cover?
- Submissions may not be accepted by the Committee if they do not address the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry or are frivolous or offensive. If a submission is not accepted by the Committee then the contents of the submission will not be used during the Inquiry or published in any way.
- Parliamentary privilege does not apply when the Committee has refused to hear evidence as it is outside the Terms of Reference or is frivolous or offensive. (This is unusual as the person being interviewed at a hearing will be warned by the Committee when this is about to happen.)
- The Committee’s view is that Parliamentary privilege does not necessarily apply to the publication of submissions on a website or forum other than the Committee’s.
What legislation relates to Parliamentary privilege?
Section 19 of the Constitution Act 1975 (Vic) provides that the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, the members of the Parliament and the committees of the Parliament shall hold such powers, privileges and immunities as were held by the British House of Commons on 21 July 1855. The powers, privileges and immunities of the Parliament include those provided for in the Bill of Rights of 1689. Article 9 of the Bill of Rights declares:
That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.
Further provision for the relationship between court proceedings and proceedings before the Committee is made by s 50 of the Parliamentary Committees Act 2004 (Vic):
The proceedings of a Joint Investigatory Committee or any recommendations or reports made by a Joint Investigatory Committee or any documents published by a Joint Investigatory Committee—
a) do not give rise to a cause of action in law;
b) must not be the subject of, or in any way be called into question in, a proceeding before a court.
The Committee is a Joint Investigatory Committee within the meaning of s 50.
The privileges granted by the provisions set out above may be referred to collectively as Parliamentary privilege.