THE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will sit for the final time on December 14 to publicly mark the end of the five-year long inquiry, a day before presenting its final report.
It will be a chance for commissioners to thank the community for their continued support of the royal commission and its work, commission chief executive officer Philip Reed said.
Royal commission chair Justice Peter McClellan will also present the National Library of Australia with a book of about 1000 messages written by survivors of institutional child sexual abuse as part of a final round of formal events before the royal commission ends its work.
The book, titled Message to Australia, is a collation of personal messages to the Australian community by people who had private sessions with the royal commission. The messages tell of survivors’ experiences and their hopes for creating a safer environment for children in the future. The book will be accessible to the public.
“When we began in 2013 we had no idea just how widespread or prevalent child sexual abuse in institutions was in Australia, or how many people would come forward to share their story,” Mr Reed said.
“Since then we have held 57 public hearings, where we sat for 444 days and heard evidence of more than 1300 witnesses. Commissioners have also listened to the personal accounts of almost 8000 survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions through private sessions.
“Combined with our comprehensive policy and research program, the royal commission has been able to contribute to the community’s understanding and awareness of institutional child sexual abuse.”
Mr Reed acknowledged the work of thousands of individuals through the life of the royal commission, including survivors, academics, legal practitioners, government representatives and advocacy and support groups.
“We couldn’t have achieved what we have so far without the input and support of so many,” Mr Reed said.
The final sitting in the royal commission’s Sydney hearing room on the 17th floor of Governor Macquarie Tower will be open to the public, with limited seating available. The final sitting will also be live streamed.
The royal commission’s final report will be delivered to Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Friday, December 15.