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 by the Australian Institute of Criminology:


  • History of child sexual abuse offences in Australia
  • Brief review of contemporary sexual offence and child sexual abuse legislation in Australia

Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed said the results of this research provide important reference material for the Royal Commission and other organisations carrying out work in this area.

"The first report outlines significant socio-political developments in respect of child sexual abuse which will assist the Royal Commission’s understanding of the way child sexual abuse legislation has developed in Australia.

"The second report provides an overview of the offences with which a person who sexually abuses a child in an institutional setting may be charged with as at the end of 2013.

"Both of these reports will contribute to the Royal Commission’s understanding of the historical context of child sexual abuse in Australia, and the development of relevant legislation.

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.

A summary of both reports is available below, the full reports can be read on the Royal Commission website: www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/research/published-research

Key findings of reports


History of child sexual abuse offences in Australia

  • The report provides an overview of the socio-political factors and events that have influenced the development of Australia’s child sexual abuse legislation from 1788-2013.
  • The AIC concludes that during this period child sexual abuse has been marginalised, denied, ‘discovered’ and ‘rediscovered’.
  • The report also provides an overview of the development of legislation during the period 1950-2013 in the nine Australian jurisdictions
  • Key developments in relevant legislation during this period which are discussed in detail in the report include:
    • the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting males
    • the removal of gendered language from legislation to enable the law to deal with matters involving male victims, female offenders and same sex offences
    • broadening the definition of sexual intercourse
    • introduction of specific legislation relating to child pornography
    • introduction of mandatory reporting laws.

Brief review of contemporary sexual offence and child sexual abuse legislation in Australia

  • The report provides an overview of the offences that an individual who sexually abuses a child in an institutional setting may be charged with in the nine Australian jurisdictions.
  • These include contact and non-contact sexual offences, child pornography offences and offences for which institutions and/or their representatives that were aware of child sexual abuse may be charged.
  • The AIC report provides information for each of the identified offences including:
    • the location of the offence in the respective state or territory's legislation
    • the age of the victim (where relevant)
    • aggravating factors
    • the maximum penalty.