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“Problems with records and recordkeeping practices are not confined to the past”: a challenge from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Research paper by Frank Golding

Indexed on: 29 Jul '19Published on: 16 Apr '19Published in: Archival Science



Abstract

This paper describes and analyses the campaign by the Care Leaver community and other stakeholders to bring about a royal commission into child abuse in Australia. Care Leavers did not get the royal commission they wanted and expected—other more powerful forces were at play—but the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission) was highly effective in exposing the complex nature and extent of the problem of child sexual abuse, “the core transgression of childhood innocence”. This paper aims to show that, although the Royal Commission disappointed many Care Leavers with its narrow focus on sexual abuse, when it eventually reported on records and recordkeeping, the Commission surprised many by moving beyond its narrow remit. Issues relating to records and recordkeeping were not originally a prominent part of the Commission’s mandate, but they emerged as one of the crucial issues that influence the quality of the out-of-home Care experience and child protection. This finding has created a fresh context in which Care Leaver advocates, academics and other professionals can work together to further a new agenda for recordkeeping in out-of-home Care.