Many different types of people gave evidence at a public hearing, some of those people choose to participate (such as survivors of child sexual abuse) and others were legally required to attend (such as people working in the relevant institutions).

The Royal Commission did not compel survivors of child sexual abuse to give evidence at public hearings.

Advice was given on:

  • where the public hearing is being held
  • how the Royal Commission runs a public or private hearing
  • what your obligations are as a witness and what is expected of you
  • the public nature of hearings and the role of the media
  • any special arrangements for a hearing
  • the hearing room and protocols
  • witness entitlements and financial support.

Referrals were also made to:

  • knowmore, an agency set up by the Commonwealth Government to give free independent legal advice for people engaging with the Royal Commission
  • financial and legal support services for witnesses attending a hearing, including your case study contact person at the Royal Commission
  • counselling and other support options, both on the day of the hearing and at other times.

Giving Evidence at a public hearing

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Download witness guides

About public hearings
About public hearings
Format: A5 Brochure

Information on Royal Commission public hearings, including attending, giving evidence, procedures and hearing protocol.

Applications for Leave to Appear at a public hearing

If you received a request for a witness statement and/or a summons to give evidence at a public hearing you may have needed to complete an application for Leave to Appear.

Witnesses at a public hearing would normally only apply for leave to appear if they wish to participate beyond giving evidence - for example, to cross examine other witnesses.

How to submit your application

  1. Download the Application for Leave to Appear PDF, which is also available as a Word.doc.
  2. Annex a short submission setting out the basis upon which you or your organisation is seeking leave to appear at the specified public hearing of the Royal Commission.
  3. Lodge this form with the accompanying submission by emailing it to
  4. Successful applications will be determined in advance of the public hearing date.


Practice Guideline 1 also contains helpful information on Applications for Leave to Appear.

If the Leave to Appear was granted to an individual or institution, it meant they participated at the hearing as a witness, or as a lawyer assisting a witness or an interested body.

Legal advice

You did not need a lawyer to give a witness statement or to be a witness in a hearing. If you required legal advice or representation, you could choose whoever you wanted as your lawyer.

Free legal advice and information from knowmore was available on 1800 605 762 or by visiting

Legal costs

The Attorney-General's Department offered legal financial help to people who had been requested by the Royal Commission to provide a witness statement, as well as people who had been summonsed to appear as a witness at the Royal Commission. The department has advice on witness entitlements and how to apply for them.

For more information phone 1800 117 995 or email

Witness costs

If you attended a Royal Commission hearing as a witness, you could apply for help with your related costs.

If you were called as a witness, and lived more than 50 kilometers from where a public hearing was being held, financial assistance was available to help with your travel expenses. As appropriate the Royal Commission also assisted with a support person attending with the witness.

Counselling and support

The Royal Commission has a team of staff who can support you before, during or after the hearing. Please let us know if you would like to speak to a member of the support team. It is a confidential and free service.

The team can also refer you to other support services.