Royal Commission to investigate Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

On 11 January 2013, the Prime Minister, announced the appointment of a six-member Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the release of the Terms of Reference that will guide the inquiry. 

The Royal Commission is inquiring into how allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse and related matters that occurred in an institutional context have been managed and responded to. It will investigate how institutions and governments can better protect children, how they can achieve best practice in reporting and responding to incidents and how to address the impact of child sexual abuse.

More information is available from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse website at, including the terms of reference, schedule of activity, how to provide information to the Royal Commission and the support services available to the victims of child sexual abuse.

The Government is committed to ensuring that people who are affected by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have access to appropriate support services.

The Australian Government initially committed $45 million until 30 June 2016 to fund organisations to provide community-based support services for people who participate in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. There are currently 37 Royal Commission Community-based Support Services across Australia. A list of services can be found by clicking on the following link Royal Commission Support Services.

These organisations deliver services such as counselling, support and case management to individuals and their family members before, during and after their interaction with the Royal Commission. The services complement existing supports provided by the Royal Commission and the Attorney-General’s Department.

The funding also includes specialist services for people living with disability, Indigenous Australians and people who have suffered abuse from religious organisations or clergy.

If you have any questions about the Royal Commission Community-based Support Services, please contact DSS for assistance at

Financial assistance for witnesses

Legal financial assistance

The Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department is administering legal financial assistance for the Royal Commission.

Legal financial assistance is a grant to cover the reasonable costs of legal representation and disbursements relating to the provision of evidence to the Royal Commission.

You are eligible to apply for legal financial assistance if you:

  • receive a letter from the Royal Commission requesting that you attend an interview, or
  • are called, or given leave to appear, as a witness at a public hearing.

Organisations are not eligible to apply.

More information on accessing legal financial assistance can be found on the Attorney-General's Department website or by calling 02 6141 4770.

Payment of witness expenses

If you are a witness who has been called to give evidence at a hearing of the Royal Commission, you can apply for payments to cover your expenses to attend the hearing. Funding for witness expenses is provided by the Royal Commission.

Expenses covered include a daily appearance fee and may also include payments for travel, accommodation, and lost income (note that this does not include private sessions).

You can get further information about funding for witness expenses by contacting the Witness Support team at the Royal Commission by emailing or calling 1800 099 340.

Independent legal advice service

The Australian Government has funded the establishment of an independent legal service called 'knowmore'. It provides legal advice to help people understand the legal issues relevant to them, so they can be in the best position to decide whether, and how, they wish to contact or provide information to the Royal Commission.

Knowmore is a free service that provides:

  • legal advice and assistance
  • legal information and referral to related services where necessary
  • help with preparing written statements and submissions.

Knowmore's staff includes lawyers, counsellors/social workers, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural liaison officers.

Knowmore's national free advice line is 1800 605 762.

More information about their services can be found on the knowmore website.

The following links provide further information about the Royal Commission and how it will work and how organisations were able to apply for Royal Commission Support Services:

Additional Resources and Information

Frequently asked questions

Selection Documentation

Media releases

More information

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