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
3. “Children in a Terrible State”: Understandings of Trauma and Child Sexual Assault in 1970s and 1980s Australia
4. Challenging Institutional Denial: Psychological Discourse, Therapeutic Culture and Public Inquiries
5. Sexual Abuse as the Core Transgression of Childhood Innocence: Unintended Consequences for Care Leavers
6. Inequalities of Redress: Australia’s National Redress Scheme for Institutional Abuse of Children
7. “I Fought. I Screamed. I Bit”: The Assertion of Rights Within Historic Abuse Inquiry Transcripts
8. “Soul Murder”: Investigating Spiritual Trauma at the Royal Commission
9. Abuse and Cruelty in Religious Bureaucracy: The Case of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle