Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston David Stuart

Family court should be included in royal commission

BRAVEHEARTS founder Hetty Johnston is confident Queensland victims of institutional child sexual abuse are not being forgotten despite the royal commission only holding one public hearing in the state.

But she said The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse should expand to include the Family Court in the terms of reference.

The commission, which was established more than 21 months ago, has conducted 21 case studies so far, but only one in Queensland.

In its only Queensland hearing the commission examined the Toowoomba Catholic Education Office's response to allegations of child sexual abuse at a local primary school.

The hearings were held in February and the final report is yet to be made public.

Ms Johnston said she would be very surprised if the royal commission did not sit again in Queensland.

She said the commission should expand its terms of reference further but was thrilled the issue of child sexual abuse was now on the national agenda.

"We feel the Family Court, as an institution, should be included," she said.

"The sheer volume of complaints to Bravehearts surrounding the Family Court is staggering.

"The Family Court leaves children out in the cold and is simply not listening to them."

Ms Johnston said there was a culture in the Family Court system to "departmentalise" allegations of child sexual abuse and it needed to stop.

"The Family Court system is broken," she said.

"I understand they would not like investigating themselves, but they really need to."

A spokesman for the royal commission said it had not yet announced any hearings for next year so could not confirm whether or not there would be further hearings in Queensland.

The royal commission has heard case studies which examined The Salvation Army's handling of abuse allegations at the notorious Riverview Training Farm and Swimming Australia's handling of the Scott Volkers affair, but both hearings were held in Sydney.