11 Jan 2013
- The Sydney Morning Herald
An investigation unit designed to prosecute sex offenders will be established as part of the royal commission on the sexual abuse of children due to begin later this year.
The federal government will today announce the terms of reference for the commission, which will focus on the ''systemic failures and issues'' in the response of organisations and institutions to the sexual abuse of children.
While royal commissions do not have the power to prosecute individuals, the government will ensure that allegations of abuse raised by the commission can be investigated and, if proven, prosecuted.
Fairfax understands that the commission's terms of reference will require commissioners to establish a process for the referral of individual cases to the police.
The terms of reference will also give the commissioners the power to set up a special ''investigative unit'', which will work closely with local police to investigate and prosecute past abuses.
There have been about 200 formal written submissions to the commission's terms of reference, and about 600 emails.
According to the government, the submissions highlighted the need to tailor hearings to support victims through the process of preparing and giving evidence, and to report crimes to the police.
Submissions also stressed the need for the commission to take whatever time was needed to investigate individual and systemic abuses properly, but said recommendations should be implemented in a timely fashion.
Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon said in November the inquiry would be a ''big and slow-moving beast'' that could take a decade to complete.
''Make no mistake, it will cause trauma for many individuals and organisations,'' Mr Fitzgibbon said.