Royal Commission publishes two research reports

Royal Commission publishes two research reports

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has today published two research reports into aspects related to child sexual abuse:


  • Mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse in Australia; a legislative history
  • Child exploitation material in the context of institutional child sexual abuse

Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed said the information in the reports published today will fill gaps in the current body of research on child sexual abuse to assist others in their work in this area.

“While the findings and opinions contained in Royal Commission research reports are those of the authors and not the Royal Commission, the Royal Commission will use the results to inform its work and the development of final recommendations,” he said.

“The Royal Commission is investing significant resources to deliver research that will provide evidence to support our work and help us to make recommendations for strengthening the protection of children and institutional responses to child sexual abuse.”

“The Royal Commission has commissioned a significant number of research projects across a range of themes including the causes, prevention and responses to institutional child sexual abuse and support for victims and survivors.”

“Many of these research projects are underway and the Royal Commission expects to release two reports commissioned by the Australian Institute of Criminology in the coming weeks. A number of further reports will be released by the end of this year with more reports to follow in 2015.”

“Our research will make a major and lasting contribution to the national and international research community,” Mr Reed said.

A summary of both reports is available below, the full reports can be read on the Royal Commission website.

Key findings of reports

Mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse in Australia: a legislative history – Queensland University of Technology

  • This report provides an overview of the development of laws relating to mandatory reporting in each State and Territory.
  • Every Australian jurisdiction now has some form of mandatory reporting law for child sexual abuse.
  • Australian States and Territories have introduced laws relating to mandatory reporting at different times over a 40 year period. They were first enacted in 1969 in South Australia and the last State to enact them was Western Australia in 2009.
  • Currently the laws share many features and have a similar approach however several significant differences remain particularly in relation to reporter groups
  • Australian government inquiries have consistently supported mandatory reporting laws
  • There is evidence to suggest that mandatory reporting has a positive effect on the identification of cases of child sexual abuse although more research into the factors which impede and facilitate effective reporting would be valuable.
  • Arguments opposing mandatory reporting laws are primarily concerned with the possibility that they will result in a large increase in reported cases, with which the child protection system will be unable to cope.

Child exploitation material (CEM) in the context of institutional child sexual abuse – University of Tasmania

  • This report provides a review of literature on child exploitation material (CEM) in the context of institutional child sexual abuse
  • Compared to other areas of crime research, CEM research is relatively new and the current research base is limited.
  • There is no evidence to support a direct causal link between viewing CEM and committing contact offences, however, a significant percentage of CEM offenders appear to have committed contact offences.
  • The CEM market is experiencing unprecedented growth, particularly with the combined advent of the internet and cheap digital cameras.
  • Very little research has examined CEM in workplace contexts.
  • There is very limited evidence about the effectiveness of strategies to prevent CEM offences in institutions. Potential strategies include:
    • IT filters to block websites
    • protocols governing the use of  computers, cameras, mobile phones etc.
    • monitoring staff internet use
    • workplace codes of conduct including Internet Use Policies.