1st Edition

Examining the Past and Shaping the Future The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Edited By Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain, Kathleen McPhillips Copyright 2022
    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013– 17) was one of the largest public inquiries in Australian history and one of the most important investigations into child abuse internationally. It facilitated a national conversation about justice for victims and survivors and how to improve child safety in the future. Through the examination of practices in key social institutions, including churches, schools, sporting clubs, hospitals and voluntary organisations, it provided new understandings of the widespread abuse that many people had experienced in the past and it made recommendations for a national redress scheme. The Royal Commission also recommended sweeping reforms in policies, practices and institutional cultures.

    Offering valuable insights into the Royal Commission’s history and background, its social and cultural significance, and its implications for policy development and legislative reform, this book provides a wide-ranging analysis of the work of the Royal Commission and its social, psychological, legal and discursive impact. The chapters reveal not only the complexity of the matters that the Royal Commission was dealing with and the difficulties faced by the victims of child sexual abuse, but also the challenges of researching and writing about this sensitive topic.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Australian Studies.


    Katie Wright, Shurlee Swain and Kathleen McPhillips

    1. Introduction: Bringing Child Sexual Assault into Public Discourse— The Australian Child Abuse Royal Commission

    Katie Wright and Shurlee Swain

    2. Institutional Abuse: A Long History

    Shurlee Swain

    3. “Children in a Terrible State”: Understandings of Trauma and Child Sexual Assault in 1970s and 1980s Australia

    Lisa Featherstone

    4. Challenging Institutional Denial: Psychological Discourse, Therapeutic Culture and Public Inquiries

    Katie Wright

    5. Sexual Abuse as the Core Transgression of Childhood Innocence: Unintended Consequences for Care Leavers

    Frank Golding

    6. Inequalities of Redress: Australia’s National Redress Scheme for Institutional Abuse of Children

    Kathleen Daly

    7. “I Fought. I Screamed. I Bit”: The Assertion of Rights Within Historic Abuse Inquiry Transcripts

    Fiona Davis

    8. “Soul Murder”: Investigating Spiritual Trauma at the Royal Commission

    Kathleen McPhillips

    9. Abuse and Cruelty in Religious Bureaucracy: The Case of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle

    Michael Salter


    Katie Wright is Associate Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

    Shurlee Swain is Emeritus Professor at the Australian Catholic University.

    Kathleen McPhillips is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Newcastle.