On 14 August 2012 I placed the following notice of motion on the Parliamentary record, after discussion with victims and survivors of abuse and their organisations:
Mr Shoebridge to move—
1. That this House notes that:
(a) survivors of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and other organizations have long campaigned for a public inquiry,
(b) internal investigations by churches and other organisations have proven wholly inadequate in achieving justice for victims of child sexual assault,
(c) the existing legal framework has proven incapable of dealing with the ongoing legacy of sexual abuse within the church and other institutions,
(d) there is a growing body of evidence that the Catholic Church in particular was aware of the abuse being committed and chose not to alert authorities or to take other steps to protect children in its care,
(e) a truly independent inquiry is the only way to uncover the truth of what happened to many young people within churches, in orphanages, children’s homes and other organizations,
(f) the unwillingness of governments to date to take these concerns seriously has further injured many victims who have been seeking the truth, and
(g) a Royal Commission is urgently needed to thoroughly investigate this matter of serious public importance.
2. That this House calls on the Government to:
(a) recognise the urgent need for victims and their families to have prompt and meaningful access to justice, and
(b) immediately take steps to establish a Royal Commission into religious and other organizations handling of child sexual abuse.
On 31 August 2012 David renewed the call for a Royal Commission in a lengthy interview with NSW 7:30 report’s Quentin Dempster.
Following the announcement on the 11 November 2012 by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard that the Federal Government would support a Commonwealth Royal Commission into abuse in religious and other institutions, the motion was amended and moved in the house.
That this House:
(a) warmly welcomes the establishment of a Commonwealth Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in religious, non-religious and State institutions,
(b) acknowledges the courage and commitment of those victims, survivors and family members together with their advocacy groups, who have spoken up and demanded action from their elected representatives,
(c) notes that it is the States, and not the Commonwealth, that have the primary responsibility for child protection, child welfare and the criminal law and for this reason it is essential that there be a cooperative relationship between the New South Wales Government and any Commonwealth Royal Commission,
(d) notes that this cooperative relationship must extend to working with the Commonwealth Government to provide all possible assistance including:
(i) an open commitment from the New South Wales Government to cooperate fully with the Commonwealth Royal Commonwealth in accordance with the law,
(ii) a guarantee of full cooperation by all State authorities, including the police and child welfare and protection authorities, with the Commonwealth Royal Commission in accordance with the law,
(iii) an ongoing commitment to consult with, and work with, victims, survivors, family members and their support groups to ensure that they have the necessary support to fully engage with any Royal Commission, and
(e) calls on the Premier to work with the Commonwealth Government, victims, survivors, family members and their support groups to ensure that the commencement and operation of the Federal Royal Commission is cooperative, comprehensive and timely.
The motion was supported by the Greens, the Government, the Labor Opposition and the Christian Democratic Parties. Each of these parties spoke to the substance of the motion. Full video of these speeches can be seen here:
The full text of this debate is available on the NSW Parliament website here: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/Parlment/HansTrans.nsf/V3ByKey/LC20121113?open&refNavID=HA3_1
For more information on our work on the Justice for Victims campaign see here: http://davidshoebridge.org.au/2012/10/27/justice-for-victims/