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Programme 1.8: Royal commissions

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The objective of this programme is to contribute to Outcome 1 by protecting and promoting the rule of law and building a safe, secure and resilient Australia. Details of financial results for administered items are provided in Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.

There has been a change in the title of programme 1.8 from Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to the more general title of Royal commissions. As at 30 June 2014, there were three royal commissions operating under this programme:

Achievements contributing to programme deliverables

The royal commissions operate in accordance with terms of reference set out in Letters Patent issued by the Governor-General. While royal commissions fall within the range of the department's responsibilities, they operate independently under the direction of royal commissioners. The department provides administrative support to royal commissions. This includes preparing Letters Patent and establishing the royal commissions, representing the Commonwealth's interests before royal commissions and administering legal assistance for witnesses and other parties.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established on 11 January 2013 with the Governor-General appointing a six-member royal commission. There are three pillars that underpin the work of the royal commission allowing it to achieve its task as set out in the terms of reference: private sessions, public hearings, research and policy.

At 30 June 2014, the royal commission had conducted 1,872 private sessions in each capital city and regional centres including the Kimberley, Cairns, Coffs Harbour and Ballarat. Private sessions allow survivors to speak directly with a commissioner in a private and comfortable place and have assisted in better understanding the impacts of both abuse and any institutional response on participants over their lifetimes.

The royal commission held its first public hearing in Sydney in September 2013 and to date, has held 14 public hearings in five states and territories. Each public hearing focuses on a different institution and has so far explored the conduct of institutions including the Scouts, YMCA, Salvation Army and the Catholic and Anglican churches.

The royal commission has completed 21 research projects, released seven issues papers and held two roundtables to discuss key policy issues publicly. The first roundtable held in April 2014 focused on out-of-home care. Participants included government representatives, regulators, policy experts, care practitioners, Indigenous representatives, academics and advocacy groups. The second roundtable in June 2014 discussed working with children checks. The royal commission plans to hold roundtables on different policy issues, generally following the release of an issues paper and future topics are likely to include redress schemes and the criminal justice system.

At 30 June 2014, the royal commission had received a total of 14,322 calls to its call centre and 5936 pieces of correspondence. It has referred 198 matters to the police for investigation. The royal commission delivered its interim report on 30 June 2014.

Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program

The Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program was established on 12 December 2013 by the Governor-General. Mr Ian Hanger AM QC was appointed as the Royal Commissioner.

The royal commission had held 37 days of public hearings as at 30 June 2014, and had heard from over 50 witnesses. These hearings were held in the Brisbane Magistrates Court. The royal commission has also undertaken more than 120 interviews and issued 125 summonses to produce documents, with over 70,000 documents in response to summonses received (including 59,000 documents provided by the Commonwealth).

The royal commission is to provide a report of its findings and recommendations no later than 31 August 2014.

Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was established in March 2014 by the Governor-General. The Hon John Dyson Heydon AC QC was appointed as the Royal Commissioner.

The first public hearings were held in May and June 2014 relating to the Australian Workers' Union and Health Services Union in Sydney and those relating to the Transport Workers Union and the Australian Workers' Union in Perth.

In June 2014, three initial issues papers were released seeking submissions from interested parties. These issues papers cover protections available to whistle-blowers, the duties of union officials and the funding of trade union elections. This is part of a broader consultation strategy designed to ensure the royal commission has access to a range of opinion on policy reform to complement its public hearings process.

The royal commission is to provide a report of its findings and recommendations no later than 31 December 2014.

Results against key performance indicators

Table 13: Results against key performance indicators, Programme 1.8

Key performance indicator
Results
Reports are delivered on time in accordance with the terms of reference

2013–14: Achieved

2012–13: Achieved (key performance indicators combined)

2011–12: Programme did not exist

The Royal Commission into Institutionalised Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered its Interim Report in accordance with the terms of reference by the due date of 30 June 2014.

The Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program is to provide a report of its findings and recommendations in accordance with the terms of reference no later than 31 August 2014.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption is to provide a report of its findings and recommendations in accordance with the terms of reference no later than 31 December 2014.

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