Home Royal Commission Letters Patent from Her Majesty The Queen, To Establish Australia’s Royal Commission...

Letters Patent from Her Majesty The Queen, To Establish Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse


ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth….

WHEREAS all children deserve a safe and happy childhood.

AND Australia has undertaken international obligations …. [regarding] reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow up of incidents of child abuse.

AND all forms of child sexual abuse are a gross violation of a child’s right to this protection and a crime under Australian law ….

AND it is important that claims of systemic failures … be fully explored….

AND noting that, without diminishing its criminality or  seriousness, your inquiry will not specifically examine the issue of child sexual abuse …. but that any recommendations you make are likely to improve the response to all forms of child sexual abuse in all contexts.

NOW THEREFORE We do, by these Our Letters Patent … appoint you to be a Commission of inquiry, and require and authorise you, to inquire into institutional responses to allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse and related matters, and in particular….

c. what should be done to eliminate or reduce impediments that currently exist for responding appropriately to child sexual abuse ….

AND We direct you to make any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you consider appropriate, including recommendations about any policy, legislative, administrative or structural reforms. [!!!!!]

AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you, for the purposes of your inquiry and recommendations, to have regard to the following matters:

e. the experience of people directly or indirectly affected by child sexual abuse ….

f. the need to focus your inquiry and recommendations on systemic issues, recognising nevertheless that you will be informed by individual cases and may need to make referrals to appropriate authorities in individual cases;

AND, without limiting the scope of your inquiry or the scope of any recommendations arising out of your inquiry that you may consider appropriate, We direct you … to consider the following matters, and  We authorise you

to take (or refrain from taking) any action that you consider appropriate arising out of your consideration:

i. the need to establish mechanisms … for the purpose of enabling the timely investigation and prosecution of offences;

m. the need to ensure that institutions and other parties are given a sufficient opportunity to respond to requests and requirements for information, documents and things, including, for example, having regard to any need to obtain archived material.

AND We appoint you, the Honourable Justice Peter David McClellan AM, to be the Chair of the Commission….

AND We declare that in these Our Letters Patent:

child  means a child within the meaning of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989.

institution means any public or private body, agency, association, club, institution, organisation or other entity or group of entities of any kind (whether incorporated or unincorporated), and however described,

official, of an institution, includes:…

vi. any representative (however described) of the institution or a related entity; and

vii. any member, officer, employee, associate, contractor or volunteer (however described) of the institution or a related entity; and…

ix. any other person who you consider is, or should be treated as if the person were, an official of the institution.

IN WITNESS, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent.

WITNESS Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Dated 11th January 2013 [Emphasis added]

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister




  1. Note from Gumshoe Assistant Editor:

    The foregoing “article” is not late-breaking news. It’s four years old. But Gumshoe will be publishing an Overview this week, of the Royal Commission’s work of the last 4 years. So it is worth observing how wide are the terms of reference in these Letters Patent from Her Maj.

    Indeed almost nothing has been left out. The Commissioner, Justice Peter McClellan, can surveil the daylights out of anyone he chooses in an effort to answer the main question:

    How is it that when kids were abused, the heads of the relevant institutions gave a weak response, or no response, or in fact engaged in a vigorous cover-up?

  2. Twitters about the Royal Commission:

    rhonda janetzki‏ @2teabags Mar 31, 2017

    Carolyn Frawley‏ @CarolynFrawley1 Mar 31
    Couldn’t say it better. Thank you all at the Royal Commission for your support and hearing what
    we had to tell I salute you

    Melissa Madsen‏ @melissamadsen Mar 31
    Thank you, Justice Peter McClellan, Gail Furness SC, @CLAN_AU & survivors

    Pauline Carr‏ @PCKJ3627 Mar 31
    Thank you Justice McClellan I’m eternally grateful for assistance from all Commissioners Fight the good fight goes on in my case

    Jezebel Jones‏ @JezebelsJourney Mar 31
    Thank you for your professionalism and dignity whilst chairing this inquiry #JehovahsWitnesses #CSA #adultsurvivors

    bev henwood‏ @bevhenwood Mar 31
    Bless you sir. May you sleep the sleep of the just.

    T.M.W.‏ @ZEPHYoRUS Mar 31
    Without survivors it would’ve been a hollow attempt to expose reality of Institutional Abuse & to curtail their ability to get away with it.

    Sally Cloke‏ @newynewby Mar 31
    Huge respect for McClellan and team.

  3. shes takin’ the mickey..

    that picture of old lizzy looks like shes just got through eating a baby, and is waiting for more.

    i dont like that family one bit.

    if the RC can highlight the issue, and give any comfort at all to anyone who has suffered, then good, but I doubt that any evil doers, bar a few sacrificial offerings perhaps, will see anything close to justice.

  4. …… your inquiry will not specifically examine the issue of child sexual abuse…….

    Always the get out clause to ensure names will not be named.

    The enquiry will be limited to ‘oh you poor dear s/he’s.’ No names now, no names, tut tut

    • I took that phrase, in coordination with the phrase that followed in the next paragraph, to mean “please concentrate on the bigger issue — the non-reporting (aka the instituional response).”

      As to whether Justice McClellan is willing to use his power to open up the matters that one submitter (Fiona Barnett) has asked him to open up, I think I’ll call my bookie an ask what the odds are.

      Anybody want to bet?

      (Kevin, I did not notice — but nether do I claim to have paid attention to — any restrictions on naming names. Deceased priests were named, of course. The Balacombe army base survivors tended to say “My sergeant or my superior,” but if asked they might be willing to give the names.

      It’s my understanding that the RC will report names to police. Her Maj wrote:
      “You may need to make referrals to appropriate authorities in individual cases.”

  5. Hooray for Australia. Seriously. I see from worldcat.org that
    my book “Inquest: Siege in Sydney” is already on the shelf of National Library in Canberra, and State Libe of Victoria.

    And, as Dee and I may already have boasted, our book “Port Arthur: Enough Is Enough” is a dancin’ and a prancin’ all over the shelf of the State Library of Tasmania.

    Worth a trip to Hobart, no doubt.
    Just to look at it and say What the hell is that!

C'mon Leave a Reply, Debate and Add to the Discussion