Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established in January 2013 to inquire into and report on responses by institutions to instances and allegations of child abuse in Australia. The terms of reference include inquiring into the adequacy and appropriateness of the responses by institutions and their officials to reports and information about allegations, incidents or risks of child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, and what institutions and governments should do to address or alleviate the impact of past and future child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts.

AGS Dispute Resolution lawyer Tony Giugni (Senior Executive Lawyer) acts as Solicitor Assisting to the Royal Commission. He works closely with the Commissioners, Chief Executive Officer and Counsel Assisting. Tony also leads the Office of the Solicitor Assisting within the Office of the Royal Commission, which includes outposted AGS Dispute Resolution lawyers.

Owing to the size of the Commission, AGS lawyers have developed bespoke practices to manage the broad range of legal processes, including the production and registration of summonses, orders and applications for leave to appear. Legal teams led by AGS lawyers have worked together with investigators, counsel and Commission lawyers to consider and prepare case studies about particular institutions for public hearing. AGS has also provided advice about the Commission's powers and structure, including during the early stages of the Commission's establishment.

The Royal Commission continues until the end of 2017, after the Government agreed to the interim report recommendation from the Commissioners that sought an extension of 2 years.

Defence Abuse Response Taskforce

The Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART) was established to assess and respond to individual cases of abuse in Defence occurring before 11 April 2011. The primary purpose of the Taskforce is to determine, in close consultation with complainants, the most appropriate outcome in individual cases.

During 2013–14, Kirsty Windeyer (Senior Executive Lawyer) continued her outpost as Special Counsel to DART. Kirsty provides strategic advice to DART's leadership group. Lawyers from AGS Dispute Resolution and OGC have also advised on complaints made to the Taskforce and assisted with the assessment process.

The work of the Taskforce continues.

Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program

The Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program was announced in December 2013. The purpose of the Commission is to inquire into the Australian Government's Home Insulation Program, which was announced in February 2009 and ran from July 2009 to February 2010.

Hearings were held in Brisbane over 9 weeks, commencing in March 2014. AGS acted for the Commonwealth, a party to the Royal Commission.

Tom Howe QC (Chief Counsel Dispute Resolution) and Damien O'Donovan (Senior General Counsel Dispute Resolution) appeared as counsel for the Commonwealth. The core legal team consisted of Louise Rafferty and Kristy Alexander (Senior Executive Lawyers), Laura Armstrong and Rebecca Daumont (Senior Lawyers), Alison Thomson and Sam Thorpe (Lawyers) as well as other lawyers from AGS Dispute Resolution in the Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne offices.

This is an extract from the 2013–14 AGS annual report