Child sex abuse inquiry commences in Tasmania

By Melissa Coade

Sunday May 16, 2021

Parliament House, Tasmania.
Parliament House, Tasmania. (Image: Adobe/dudlajzov)

A commission of inquiry into the Tasmanian government’s responses to child sexual abuse in institutional settings has been launched — the first time a royal commission has been held in the state for 29 years. 

Three commissioners will lead the inquiry to investigate child sexual abuse in Tasmania and identify ways to improve how the government can protect children. They will build on the work of the commonwealth royal commission that considered the same issue and released its final report in 2017.

Leading the inquiry is commission president and former Supreme Court judge Marcia Neave. The other two commissioners are child protection expert Professor Leah Bromfield, and retired Family Court judge Robert Benjamin.

Commissioner Neave said that it was devastating abuse is often perpetrated in settings where children are expected to be cared for and nurtured – the harm even occurs in ‘those organisations that are established and operated on our behalf, by our governments’.

“Child abuse is a terrible crime, which can harm children for their whole lives and devastate their families,” Commissioner Neave said.

The inquiry was announced by Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein last November, following allegations of child sexual abuse in a youth detention centre, public schools, and a public hospital in Launceston. 

In April, The Mandarin reported that 14 state public servants have been stood down from their government jobs and subject to recent child sexual abuse allegations.

“Together we look forward to travelling across the state to hear from Tasmanians about their experiences, and their ideas about how to best ensure that government institutions are safe for children,” Commissioner Neave added.

Submissions are now open and the commission is encouraging any person who has been affected by sexual abuse in government institutions, or has other relevant information, to come forward.

The final report and recommendations are due August 2022.


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