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Speaking the Unspeakable, Naming the Unnameable: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

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journal contribution
posted on 02.02.2021, 00:44 by Katie WrightKatie Wright, Shurlee Swain
The establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse followed years of lobbying by survivor groups, damning findings from previous inquiries, and increasing societal recognition of the often lifelong and intergenerational damage caused by child sexual abuse. Through extensive media coverage, the Royal Commission brought into public view the reality that the sexual abuse of children was widespread, and its recommendations are prompting organisational, policy, and legislative reform. This article explores the background to the Royal Commission, situating it within the history of previous inquiries and growing community outrage at the failure of institutions to adequately protect children and respond appropriately when abuse occurs. The article explores the ways in which the Royal Commission, more so than previous inquiries, brought child sexual abuse into public discourse. It also serves as an introduction to this specialissue of the Journal of Australian Studies, which illustrates how the Royal Commission has fostered new scholarship across a range of disciplines as researchers engage with complex issues related to institutional child sexual abuse, its history, causes, impacts, and the important role of inquiries in confronting it.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Australian Studies in 2018, available online:


Publication Date



Journal of Australian Studies






14p. (p. 139-152)


Taylor & Francis



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