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LCA leaders prepare for Royal Commission
Leaders representing LCA districts and ministries met in Adelaide on 21 February to discuss the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia. They focused particularly on the Letters Patent (Terms of Reference) that were released by the Federal Government on 11 January.
The meeting affirmed LCA President Rev Dr Mike Semmler’s statement of 7 January, in which he welcomed the Royal Commission and offered full support for all initiatives that protect children from abuse.
Ms Liz Crawford, Director of the LCA’s Professional Standards Unit, explained the powers of the Royal Commission.
‘It will inquire into how institutions with a responsibility to children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse’, she said. ‘It will investigate where systems have failed to protect children and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to the child abuse in institutions.’
The six commissioners may consider that an organisation caring for a child is responsible for abuse or for not responding appropriately, regardless of where or when the abuse took place. They will focus on cases of institutional sexual abuse and not on cases of sexual abuse within families.
Although the Royal Commission does not have power to prosecute, it may refer cases to relevant authorities as it deems appropriate.
The commissioners will deliver their interim report by 30 June next year, and they are expected to hand over its final report by 31 December 2015.
The LCA leaders discussed issues pertaining to communications and pastoral care, and agreed to establish a working group that will coordinate the LCA's engagement with the Royal Commission.