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Commission of Inquiry - A Voice for the Vulnerable

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 10 August 2023

Tags: Commission of Inquiry

Today, Parliament welcomed an update from the Premier on the long awaited release of the report from the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings.
It is extremely important all the difficult subjects raised throughout the inquiry are ventilated in Parliament. The Tasmanian community need to be assured their elected members are responding thoughtfully and with care, with victim survivors at the front of their minds.
The Tasmanian Greens want whistle-blowers, victim survivors and the Commission of Inquiry to understand we will follow the release of the report closely and work to make sure the Government acts in good faith on the recommendations. We will do that in the weeks, months and years to come.
We will not allow the gross abuses to children of the past to be part of Tasmania’s future.
Unfortunately the Premier’s statement didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know. It felt like a shopping list of platitudes and motherhood statements.
The Premier only gave this non-update following pressure from victim survivors and media, not from a place of transparency with a wish to reassure those who are so viscerally affected by their lived experience.
A reminder. The Commission of Inquiry was called for by the Tasmanian Liberal Government.  It is the responsibility of this Liberal Government to ensure the Commission is supported in every way possible.
It is the responsibility of this Tasmanian Liberal Government to ensure the community of victim survivors are supported in every way possible. However the evidence shows that victim survivors have been left in the dark, support services remain underfunded, Ashley remains open, and just 20 days out from the release of the report victim survivors are still calling out to be heard and to be seen.
This is emblematic of the Government’s approach to everything. To hide hard truths, to obfuscate, to delay and to spin reality. This instinct for covering-up uncomfortable truths is the cancer within Tasmanian institutions that has fostered a culture of child sex abuse over decades. This still exists.
Truth-telling and justice are critical for healing. We are deeply worried the Liberals’ innate reflex for secrecy and cover-up could damage the good faith placed in the Commission of Inquiry. We are very concerned the Premier stated today the Commission’s final report may be redacted by Cabinet.
If this were to occur, it could lead to a perception by victim survivors that the Premier and his ministers were acting to sanitise the truth of the Commission of Inquiry’s findings, to avoid consequences for people in power.
We don’t agree this is standard practice for Commissions of Inquiry. The Robodebt Royal Commission is the recent example where a sealed section of their report was given to the government, a decision made by the Royal Commission itself, not by politicians.
We must not fail those that desperately need us now.
The courage of victim survivors, whistle-blowers and other witnesses to the Commission of Inquiry must be respected, must be honoured and celebrated. Most important, the findings of the Commission must be acted on.
The findings of the Commission of Inquiry through its vitally important report will be the voice for the vulnerable. It’s Premier Rockliff’s responsibility to amplify and champion them.