How do you tell your story to the Royal Commission?

Royal commission hearing


First of all – you need to contact the Royal Commission and register your intent to give evidence.

Next, tell us your story.

Jump on the phone, or even easier, fill out our simple enquiry form. Our team will listen to your story and ask all of the questions we need to work out the best way we can achieve justice, compensation and an apology.


We will write up your story, which can help to accelerate your case

When you come on board as our client, we will take whatever time it takes to hear your story.

In some cases, that can take many hours, but we are happy to spend that time with you.

The information you provide will allow us to write your story up in a professional, logical and powerful way


writing your story Royal Commission

Flickr Image Courtesy Jacob Botter

You will have the opportunity to review and adjust what is written. Once you are happy that it is a true and accurate statement, we will sendit to the Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission often has a long waiting list, but having a clear statement ready means you are likely to have your case heard more quickly.


You get to talk to a Royal Commission panel member

The Royal Commission has been set up to ensure people can tell their stories to a commissioner, without the trauma of being cross examined.

While you can just give a written statement, we always encourage our clients to have a private session with a commissioner. It only takes about an hour and it is very low key and relaxed. Peter explains it to our clients as ‘a bit like having a fireside chat’.

Here is a short bio and snapshot of the six Commissioners.


You won’t need to worry about your privacy

You don’t need legal representation at a private session, but you can bring along a support person. No-one from the government or church is allowed in the room and journalists are not able to attend.

The session is confidential. What you say will be recorded and typed up, so that the Royal Commission can refer to it later if they need to, but it won’t include your name or the names of anyone you mention, including your abuser.

However, the commission can give your information to a law enforcement body, without your permission, if it is concerned that someone is at risk.

Some comments which are typical of people’s responses when asked by counsellors about their experience in a private session include “I felt immense relief” and “I felt empowered and glad that I attended”. One attendee described the process as “fantastic” and that she felt “important” and “heard”. Another said the process was “surprisingly worthwhile”, and was “ecstatic” to be finally heard. A common response has been that if this process “would prevent this happening to one child then it would all be worth it”. Another person said “I was relieved, empowered, pleased”. One person said: “It was the best stressful experience I’ve ever had.”

Justice Peter McClellan AM
Chair, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse


You’ll have access to a Royal Commission Counsellor

After the private session, you will have access to counselling support.

The counsellor will also give you a follow up call, once you’re home, to check in and ask how you’re going.

We have in place professional counsellors to assist people who come to a session. Recognising that many people will experience a decline in mood following their session we are careful to follow people up to ensure they have adequate support available.

Justice Peter McClellan AM
Chair, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse


Where are the Royal Commission private sessions held?

Private sessions are held regularly in all Australian capital cities and many different regional areas.

The Commission doesn’t advertise the specific time and place of private session hearings because it wants to protect your privacy. The Commission will send you a letter, explaining where and when your session will be held.


What happens after you give evidence at a private session of the Royal Commission?

If we can see value in your story being heard at a public hearing, and you are keen to appear as a public witness, then we will make an application for you to appear. If not, we will work together with you to find the best way to achieve compensation and justice.

The Royal Commission can also summons people directly to give evidence. This includes victims, alleged abusers and representatives from institutions.

You are not obligated to give evidence at a public session, but we strongly advise our clients to take the opportunity. As difficult and challenging as you think it might be, sharing your story at a Royal Commission is the most powerful tool you have in the fight for justice.


Share your story with us and start your journey for justice at the Royal Commission

The Commission is gaining more and more momentum as public interest and support intensifies.

The Royal Commission are calling for more victims and witnesses to come forward now.

We want to help you make sure you get the best possible chance to achieve justice.



About Peter Kelso

I am a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I have been admitted to practice since 1984. I am the principal and founder of Kelso Lawyers which has operated in Newcastle since 1986.

I have been an advocate for compensation for victims of abuse since the commencement of the Victims Compensation Tribunal in New South Wales in 1988. I conduct the largest victims practice in New South Wales. I have a high level of engagement with numerous NGOs such as woman’s refuges, sexual assault services, community organisations and healing centres.

On 31 October 2012 I was a finalist for the Justice Medal, presented by the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales.

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