December 15, 2017

SUBJECT/S: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

With the hundreds of recommendations expected out of the Royal Commission into institutional child abuse, what do you want to see out of the Government as a response? What are you saying this morning, Jenny Macklin, to the formal release of these findings and recommendations?

JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES: Well the most important thing will be for the Federal Government to demonstrate the leadership that so many people that have been sexually abused in institutions are looking for, that the recommendations are taken seriously, that they’re implemented, that the Federal Government makes sure that the States and institutions take their responsibility to address what Just McClellan described yesterday as a national tragedy.   

GILBERT: 5 years, 8,000 private hearings, the effort has been extraordinary and as you say, harrowing. This is one Royal Commission that really no one can question the worth of.

MACKLIN: Absolutely, and I think the way in which the Royal Commissioners went about their task was extraordinary. The way in which they made themselves available to the Survivors of child sexual abuse, to allow people to have private sessions where they could say, sometimes for the first time, what had happened to them, in a safe environment, where they were believed. As so many Survivors have said, this has enabled them to find their voice for the first time and to start the process of healing.

GILBERT: The Alliance for Forgotten Australians have written to you, no doubt, the Labor Party and to the Government as well to get the Redress Scheme right. What are the key elements to this, because when you look at the sort of abuse that we’re talking about, there was a range of abuse that was considered by the Royal Commission, how do you get the process right for what will be a very complex process of compensation?

MACKLIN: Well one of the first things is that we have to have all of the States and the Institutions responsible for the horrific child sexual abuse in the Redress Scheme, and what’s extremely disappointing about the Redress Scheme legislation that the Federal Government has put in to the Parliament is that not one State, not one Institution has joined the Redress Scheme. So first and foremost, those that did the abusing, those that were responsible for the abuse, those that covered it up need to come into the Redress Scheme and pay just compensation. It’s also the case that the Federal Government has put forward legislation that would see the cap on the level of Redress at a lower level than that recommended by the Royal Commission. Now, I just can’t see any justification for a lower level of compensation. The Royal Commission’s recommendations on the Redress Scheme should be implemented, and the Federal Government should make sure that the Redress Scheme is really delivering in the way the Royal Commission recommended.

GILBERT: I know that you’ve monitored the developments in this area for a long time now, Jenny Macklin. Do you get the sense that the Institutions responsible are already in the process of making the necessary changes to both culture and practice?

MACKLIN: Some are, some sadly, I think, are not. Some, as others have said are more inclined to listen to their insurance companies and their lawyers rather than doing what they should be doing, which is acknowledging the terrible wrongs which have been done, the way they were done, the way in which Institutions covered it up.

GILBERT: And Jenny Macklin, of course this is something that was put in place five years ago by former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and well, I guess a legacy of her prime ministership, is that something to reflect on today as well.

MACKLIN: She has been, and I was in touch with her yesterday to let her know that Justice McClellan of the Royal Commission had particularly acknowledged Julia Gillard’s remarks when she established the Royal Commission. It was enormously important that Julia showed the leadership she did, that she took the decision that needed to be made to establish this Royal Commission that has now exposed the terrible tragedy, both a tragedy for our Nation, but more importantly, the tragedy for so many individuals whose lives have been so damaged. I thank Julia myself, but I know many, many thousands of others thank her very personally.

GILBERT: Jenny Macklin, thank you for your time on what is going to be a difficult day for many reasons. The recommendations and the final report will be released today. We’ll talk to you soon.

MACKLIN: Thank you.