Reframing Public Inquiries as 'Procedural Justice' for Victims of Institutional Child Abuse: Towards a Hybrid Model of Justice

Anne-Marie McAlinden, Bronwyn Naylor

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As the number of high profile cases of institutional child abuse mounts internationally, and the demands of victims for justice are heard, state responses have ranged from prosecution, apology, and compensation schemes, to truth commissions or public inquiries. Drawing on the examples of Australia and Northern Ireland as two jurisdictions with a recent and ongoing history of statutory inquiries into institutional child abuse, the article utilises the restorative justice paradigm to critically evaluate the strengths and limitations of the inquiry framework in providing ‘justice’ for victims. It critically explores the normative and pragmatic implications of a hybrid model as a more effective route to procedural justice and suggests that an appropriately designed restorative pathway may augment the legitimacy and utility of the public inquiry model for victims chiefly via improving offender accountability and ‘voice’ for victims. The article concludes by offering some thoughts on the broader implications for other jurisdictions in responding to large-scale historical abuses and seeking to come to terms with the legacy of institutional child abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-308
Number of pages32
JournalSydney Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

I was the lead author on this publication and contributed 70% of the work.


  • public inquiries,
  • procedural justice,
  • restorative justice,
  • institutional child abuse,
  • Australia,
  • Northern Ireland


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