22 October 2023

Two further independent reviews arise from Tasmanian child sexual abuse inquiry

| Travis Radford
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Guy Barnett

Tasmanian Attorney-General and Justice Minister Guy Barnett has taken steps to initiate two independent reviews. Photo: Guy Barnett.

Two more independent reviews will be undertaken following the release of findings from a landmark inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s responses to child sexual abuse in institutional settings.

The Commission of Inquiry’s (COI) eight-volume report outlined steps to change the way child sexual abuse in institutions is addressed and protect children and young people from abuse and harm.

“The Rockliff Government has committed to all 191 recommendations from the COI and these two [new] reviews are an important part of our commitment,” Tasmanian Attorney-General and Justice Minister Guy Barnett said.

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One of the two new reviews pertains to the statutory framework applying to COIs. Mr Barnett said he had made a referral to the Tasmania Law Reform Institute (TLRI) to conduct the review.

Subject to approval, the TLRI will examine and report on the operation of the Commissions of Inquiry Act and a section of the Evidence Act and whether there is a need for an extension of the powers of a COI.

It will also investigate statutory limitations identified by the COI’s final report, specifically the appropriateness of sections of the COI Act, and make recommendations for any necessary legislative change.

The second review will examine whether public officers who received a grant of legal assistance during the COI acted in good faith, and if not, whether they should reimburse the Crown.

Mr Barnett said he had asked his department to establish this second independent review.

“A suitably qualified and independent person will be appointed to undertake the review,” he said.

“The safety of our children and young people is our absolute priority and we are focused on building a culture that ensures the failings in our systems and institutions highlighted by the COI will never be repeated.”

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Mr Barnett also emphasised the importance of keeping Tasmanians informed about the Government’s response to the COI.

“We’ve established a Keeping Children Safe website – KeepingChildrenSafe.tas.gov.au – with information on supports available to people impacted by abuse, how to report if you believe a child is at risk of harm, and the actions already underway to improve how we protect children in our care,” he said.

If this story has raised concerns, Lifeline’s 24/7 crisis support is available on 13 11 14, Tasmanian Lifeline is available daily from 8 am to 8 pm on 1800 98 44 34, Sexual Assault Support Service Laurel House has 24/7 support on 1800 697 877 and Relationships Australia Tasmania offers counselling, wellbeing information and referral from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays on 1300 364 277. In an emergency, call triple zero.

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