The Executive Government determines the scope of the Royal Commission hearing in the terms of reference, published on the Commission’s website.
The terms of reference for a Commission can be revised and this is not uncommon. A Commission does maintain a degree of independence from the Executive Government but also remains dependent on it for its powers and resources, therefore are subject to a degree of Executive control.
Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission
into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013)
Following is an abridged version of what the Commission is authorised to inquire into:
a. what institutions and governments should do to better protect children against child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts in the future;
b. what institutions and governments should do to achieve best practice in encouraging the reporting of, and responding to reports or information about, allegations, incidents or risks of child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts;
c. what should be done to eliminate or reduce impediments that currently exist for
responding appropriately to child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional
contexts, including addressing failures in, and impediments to, reporting, investigating and responding to allegations and incidents of abuse;
d. 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,
including, in particular, in ensuring justice for victims through the provision of redress by institutions, processes for referral for investigation and prosecution and support services.
For the purposes of the Commission’s inquiry and recommendations, it is to have regard to the following matters:
a. the experience of people directly or indirectly affected by child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts, and the provision of opportunities for them to share their experiences in appropriate ways while recognising that many of them will be severely traumatised or will have special support needs;
b. the need to focus your inquiry and recommendations on systemic issues, recognising nevertheless that you will be informed by individual cases and may need to make referrals to appropriate authorities in individual cases;
c. 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;
d. changes to laws, policies, practices and systems that have improved over time the ability of institutions and governments to better protect against and respond to child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts.
Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission
into Trade Union Governance and Corruption (2014)
The Royal Commissioner will inquire into and report on:
1. The governance arrangements of any separate entities established by registered employee associations or their officers, purportedly for industrial purposes or for the welfare of their members, with particular regard to:
a. the financial management of such entities;
b. the adequacy of existing laws as they relate to such entities with respect to:
i. the integrity of financial management; and
ii. the accountability of officers of registered employee associations to their members in respect of the use of funds and other assets in relation to such entities;
c. whether such entities are used, or have been used for any form of unlawful purpose;
d. the use of funds solicited in the name of any such entities, for the purpose of furthering the interests of:
i. a registered employee association;
ii. officers of a registered employee association;
iii. members of a registered employee association; or
iv. any other person, association or organisation.
2. Without limiting the matters in paragraph 1, alleged activities relating to the establishment or operation of any such entities as they relate to the various registered branches of the following employee associations:
a. the Australian Workers Union;
b. the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union;
c. the Electrical Trades Union;
d. the Health Services Union;
e. the Transport Workers Union; and
f. any other person, association or organisation in which in respect of which credible allegations of involvement in such activities are made.
3. The circumstances in which funds are sought from any third parties and paid to such entities.
4. Where such entities and activities related thereto exist, the extent to which persons represented by registered employee association:
a. are protected from any adverse effects or negative consequences arising from their existence; or
b. are informed of their existence; or
c. are able to have influence or control of their operation; or
d. have the opportunity to hold officers of such associations accountable for any alleged wrongdoing.
5. Any conduct which may amount to a breach of any applicable law, regulation or professional standard by any officer of a registered employee association in order to:
a. procure an advantage for themselves or another person, association or organisation; or
b. cause a detriment to a person, association or organisation.
6. Any conduct in relation to such entities which may amount to a breach of any applicable law, regulation or professional standard by officers of registered industrial employee associations who hold, by virtue of their position, a position of responsibility in relation to any such entities.
7. Any bribes, secret commissions or other unlawful payments or benefits arising from contracts, arrangements or understandings between registered employee associations or their officers and any other party.
8. The participation of any persons, associations or organisations other than registered employee associations or their officers in conduct of the type described in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.
9. The adequacy and effectiveness of existing systems of regulation and law enforcement in dealing with any conduct of the type described in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6, 7 or 8, and in particular, the means of redress available to registered employee associations and their members who have suffered a detriment as a result of such conduct.
10. Any issue or matter reasonably incidental to the above.
How the terms of reference of a particular Commission refer to you or the issue that you are facing is something that you discuss with a lawyers as soon as possible if you have received a summons to appear at a Royal Commission hearing.