Lawyer Marcia Neave AO announced as president of Tasmanian inquiry into child sexual abuse


Attorney-General Elise Archer has announced the government will recommend the appointment of Marcia Neave AO as president of the inquiry which is due to start next month.

"Ms Neave brings with her an incredible wealth of experience built over an outstanding career as a judge, lawyer, academic and public policy maker," Ms Archer said.

Premier Peter Gutwein announced the commission of inquiry in November last year to investigate the responses of Tasmanian Government agencies in relation to the management of historical allegations of child sexual abuse.

"One of the key reasons I have come to the decision to recommend the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, is the power of that Inquiry to compel witnesses to provide evidence," Mr Gutwein said.

Ms Neave, 76, was the chair of the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria from February 2015 to March 2016,

Ms Archer said Ms Neave would be responsible for the selection of two or three assistant commissioners to form the inquiry's panel.

There will be about 20 support staff hired to assist the panel.

Ms Archer said the Justice Department had already received 20 submissions for the inquiry through a portal on its website.

She said it was expected the commission would get the inquiry underway in either late February or early March.

Labor and the Greens both welcomed the appointment of Ms Neave.

Labor's justice spokeswoman Ella Haddad said it was important that the government ensured the right support mechanisms were in place to make sure survivors were assisted in telling their stories.

She said the recent stand-downs of 13 public sector employees, five of which worked at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre, for sexual abuse or misconduct claims showed the importance of the Commission of Inquiry.

Many of these cases were identified through allegations made through the National Redress Scheme.

Ms Archer said the government would not release details on the government departments or agencies that employed the other eight workers, based on legal advice.

She said she believed each of the employees were all still off work as police investigations into the allegations continued.

"The government is an employer of alleged perpetrators and we do have a system of people being innocent until they are found guilty," Ms Archer said.

She said there was a low threshold for allegations to be acted upon under the redress scheme. "Matters may be referred for criminal investigation and matters may not be pursued criminally," Ms Archer said.

To contact the Commission of Inquiry, view the draft Terms of Reference, or make a submission, please visit www.justice.tas.gov.au/inquiry .

National sexual assault support: 1800 RESPECT,
Laurel House (03) 6334 2740 (Launceston),
(03) 6431 9711 (Burnie and Devonport),
Sexual Assault Support Service (SASS) on 1800 697 877.

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