I am pleased to announce that yesterday, 15 March 2021, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC as Governor-in Council, signed the Order to formally establish the Commission of Inquiry into Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings.
That Order formally established the Honourable Marcia Neave AO as President of the Commission, and appointed two other Commissioners to assist her with the Inquiry, namely Professor Leah Bromfield and former Family Court Justice the Honourable Robert Benjamin AM.
Professor Leah Bromfield is one of Australia’s foremost child protection researchers. She is a Co-Director at the Australian Centre for Child Protection and was the Professorial Fellow to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and led its extensive research program.
Professor Bromfield is a highly-regarded research expert on child protection systems, and has worked closely with state, national and international governments on establishing and implementing child welfare reforms, including the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.
The Honourable Robert Benjamin AM was appointed as a judge of the Family Court of Australia in August 2005. He is also a Presidential member of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
He was made an Order of Australia for significant service to the judiciary and to the law, legal education, mediation, arbitration and to professional standards. His Honour retires from the Family Court in May 2021 and is on leave until that time. I wish to personally thank the Chief Justice of the Family Court for agreeing to His Honour’s appointment.
I would also like to formally thank our President and Commissioners for agreeing to undertake this vitally important Inquiry. We are privileged to have such skilled and experienced professionals leading this critical piece of work.
To ensure the Commission of Inquiry is fully empowered to undertake its inquiry, expected to commence by the end of the month, today I tabled the Justice Miscellaneous (Commissions of Inquiry) Bill 2021 which will make key amendments to the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1995 and other related legislation. These proposed amendments have been identified in consultation with the President.
These amendments will further strengthen our Commissions of Inquiry Act and will make our Act one of the strongest in Australia, and will implement changes identified by the 2003 Tasmanian Law Reform Institute report as well as work done by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
I welcome the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry. This is difficult, but important and necessary work, and it shows how serious we are as a Government to addressing these matters.
I am proud our Government is shining a light on an area that has been dark for too long.
Information about the Commission of Inquiry can be found at www.justice.tas.gov.au/inquiry and queries can be directed to 1800 950 110.
Any media or statements from Ms Neave and the Commissioners is of course a matter for them, however it is my understanding Ms Neave will speak to media prior to 1 April at the commencement of the Inquiry.