Saturday, January 12, 2013

Australia: Bold promises we longed to hear, but they cannot right all the Wrongs

TRUTH, justice and redress: bold promises for a royal commission, but ones Australians have been longing to hear when it comes to child abuse.

At first sight, victims and their supporters are greatly heartened by Friday's announcements: both the commissioners and the terms of reference seem excellent. The reasons why the inquiry was necessary - the suicides and premature deaths, the plight of survivors, the concealment and protection of predators, the barriers to justice, the need for law reform and more - are all recognised.

The government has promised the necessary resources, including for advocacy groups, given a long and extendable time frame (but balanced that with a request for an interim report after 18 months), and set up a mechanism by which police can investigate and prosecute as the commission keeps working.

In some ways the most vital work the six commissioners will do over their three-year mandate will take place in the first two months, as they decide how to operate and who they will hear. There are two mutually exclusive imperatives: to be thorough yet also timely.

Canberra Times

January 12, 2013

Barney Zwartz