Govt wants sex abuse survivors to help shape commission

UPDATE: FEDERAL Attorney General Nicola Roxon has defended the tight deadline that has been set for stakeholders to have their say on the terms of reference for the royal commission into child abuse.

Victim groups, religious organisations and other interested parties have until Monday to make written submissions as the government draws up the terms of reference and decides on the make-up of the commission.

Ms Roxon said the government remained eager to have things in place of the investigation to begin early next year.

"I don't want the drafting of the terms of reference and the consultation to turn into a royal commission in itself," Ms Roxon said on Tuesday.

"It is a quite tight timeframe. That's what we're proposing, (but) I am sure that if there are particular reasons particular jurisdictions can't meet those timelines we will look sensibly at that."

On the question of compensation for victims of sexual abuse, Ms Roxon said while it would not the chief focus of the inquiry, the government was not ruling out the possibility of the royal commission making recommendations along those lines.

The release of the consultation paper on Monday has drawn praise from law firm Slater & Gordon, which has acted for hundreds of victims of sexual abuse.

Slater & Gordon general manager Hayden Stephens said the consultation paper was an important step towards ensuring the royal commission would be effective in delivering outcomes for people who had suffered abuse.

"This Royal Commission is a once in a generation opportunity to really examine these issues and expose the cultures that have allowed such horrific abuse to happen," Mr Stephens said.

"No child under institutional care should ever have to live with abuse and no perpetrator should be protected."

Mr Stephens said the removal of legislation protecting the Catholic Church and Christian Brothers Order needed to be a focus of the royal commission.

"These institutions currently enjoy the benefits of corporate status, for tax land purposes and perpetual succession of property, but avoid corporate tort liability for the acts committed under their roof," he said.

"This will be a key issue for the commission to tackle, as it must recognise that abuse is not just the act of predators but also of those in the highest echelons who have allowed it to happen."


EARLIER: THE Federal Government has released a consultation paper as it prepares the ground for the royal commission into child abuse.

Stakeholders will have until next Monday to provide views in writing on what the terms of reference for the commission should be; the form of the investigation; the number of royal commissioners, and; the timetable and reporting arrangements.

In a statement released late on Monday the government said it wanted all stakeholders, especially survivors of child sexual abuse and their families, to help shape the development of the royal commission.

The government may continue to accept comments after the November 26 deadline, which was set with the aim of having terms of reference and a commissioner (or commissioners) in place before the end of the year. The government wants the royal commission to begin early next year.

Over the next two weeks the government will also hold a number of consultation meetings with key stakeholders so that organisations that represent survivors of child abuse, community and legal leaders, state and territory governments and religious organisations can have a say.

It came as two polls published on Monday revealed overwhelming support for the royal commission.

A Nielsen poll showed 95% of people backed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's decision last week to establish the royal commission.

Only 3% of people polled were opposed.

In the weekly Essential poll, 88% supported the royal commission, with 4% opposed and 8% saying they didn't know whether they approved or disapproved.

>> The consultation paper is available here

Topics:  royal commission sexual abuse

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