Addressing the Needs of Those who Have Experienced Abuse in Care as Children: Implications of Findings from the Royal Commission


  • The Hon Justice Peter David McClellan


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been instrumental in “changing the conversation” around sexual abuse. Our public hearings in particular have brought widespread attention to the nature and extent of institutional child sexual abuse, and have helped to reduce the stigma associated with it. The following article is based on an address given at the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies National Conference in Sydney on Monday 15 August 2016. It shows that a profound change in public attitudes towards children has taken place — from a time when the norm of “children should be seen but not heard” prevailed, to today’s increasing acceptance of a child’s special vulnerability to harm. With greater recognition that children should participate in decisions that affect them, and that they deserve equal protection, institutions are reforming and internalising “child-safe” practices. We are at an important point in the social history of children in Australia.