Royal Commission Must Ensure its Terms of Reference meet Australia’s legal obligations under CROC

January 7, 2013

Media release
For immediate release Monday, 7 January 2013

Royal Commission Must Ensure its Terms of Reference meet Australia?s legal obligations under CROC?

In response to recent media reports that the terms of reference of the Gillard Government?s proposed royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse should be broadened to encompass victims of physical abuse and neglect, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR), Stephen Keim SC, this morning in Brisbane stated:

?The Commission?s terms of reference should be broadened to encompass all forms of abuse of children at the hands of institutions including physical abuse and neglect. It is imperative that the terms of reference for the proposed royal commission fit squarely within the parameters of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) and fulfil Australia’s human rights objectives.?

CROC came into force on 2 September 1990 and provides broad scope measures for addressing injustice inflicted upon children in the past and protecting against such injustice happening into the future by implementing various preventative measures and strategies.

As one of the first governments to ratify CROC in 1990, the Australian Government committed to various obligations including that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children; and to take all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures to implement the rights set out in the Convention. Most relevant to the proposed royal commission, the Australian Government?s has commitments under CROC to protect children from all forms of abuse while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. This includes ensuring effective access to redress and reparation where rights have been violated.

In this context, it is critical that the terms of reference be broadened to incorporate all forms of abuse suffered by children at the hands of institutions. Mr Keim emphasised:

?This is an important opportunity for the government to address egregious injustice, facilitate a broad and powerful healing process much needed in the Australian community and to turn over a new leaf in making a strong commitment to protecting the rights of Australian children into the future.?

Media Contact: Stephen Keim SC, President
M: 0433 846 518 E:

ALHR (Australian Lawyers for Human Rights) is a network of Australian lawyers active in practising and promoting awareness of international human rights standards in Australia. ALHR has a national membership of almost 2500 people, with active National, State and Territory committees.