Friday, 09 March 2018

 National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Reference Group

Media release

The Turnbull Government today announces the membership of the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Reference Group.

The Group brings together a broad range of survivors and their representatives from across Australia. It will facilitate the delivery of a National Apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse by advising the Government on the form and content of the apology.

The National Apology will be delivered by the Prime Minister, on behalf of the nation, at the end of this year.

The 11 member Reference Group will be chaired by the Hon Cheryl Edwardes AM, a former Western Australian Attorney General and chair of the Independent Advisory Council on Redress.

Ms Edwardes has a long and respected career in victim advocacy and support, and will ensure the voices of survivors are front and centre in the Reference Group’s recommendations to the Government.

The Reference Group will also comprise four Members of Parliament to be confirmed shortly and six representatives from key survivor support and advocacy groups, as well as Indigenous support services, survivors of institutional child sexual abuse and family members of survivors. Some of this group were also involved in the Government’s apology to the Forgotten Australians and Child Migrants in 2009.

As a nation, we must mark this occasion in a form that reflects the wishes of victims and survivors and affords them the dignity to which they were entitled as children, but which was denied to them by the very people who were tasked with their care.

To ensure the voice of victims and survivors is heard, the Reference Group will undertake consultations with key stakeholders, victims and survivors across all states and territories.

The first meeting of the Reference Group will be held in early April. The Terms of Reference for the Reference Group will be finalised shortly, along with detail around the consultation process that will follow.

The non-parliamentarian membership of the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Reference Group is:

  • The Hon Cheryl Edwardes AM (Chair)
  • Leonie Sheedy (Survivor, co-founder and CEO, Care Leavers of Australasia Network)
  • Caroline Carroll OAM (Survivor and Chair, Alliance for Forgotten Australians)
  • Richard Weston (CEO, Healing Foundation)
  • Craig Hughes-Cashmore (Survivor, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Survivors and Mates Support Network)
  • Christine Foster (Mother of two victims)
  • Hetty Johnston AM (Mother of a survivor and Founder and Executive Director, Bravehearts)

The Reference Group will be joined by four Parliamentarians comprising one each from the Government, Opposition, Australian Greens and one cross-bencher to ensure it has bipartisan support.

The Prime Minister and I look forward to working with the Reference Group, and receiving their advice on the manner, content and form of the National Apology to be delivered by the end of this year.