IN April last year, then Victorian premier Ted Baillieu announced he would set up a state government inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations.
Since then, the bipartisan family and community development committee has received 405 written submissions and conducted more than 160 hearing sessions.
This included evidence from 45 organisations in public hearings, which finished yesterday with the testimony of Australia’s top-ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell.
Written submissions will still be received until June 7, with the committee’s report expected on September 30.
Last November, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a Royal Commission into Child Abuse.
It is expected to hear from up to 5000 people, with an interim report due by June 30 next year.
So what are the differences between the two inquiries?
The main difference is the Royal Commission will have a special unit set up to investigate allegations of abuse, overseen by six commissioners led by Justice Peter McClellan.
The unit can write briefs and will liaise with the appropriate state police or Office of Public Prosecutions if needed.
The Victorian inquiry can only make recommendations, which the state government has until the end of March to respond to.
The state inquiry also has a shorter timeframe and is being conducted by politicians, not selected commissioners.
The final Royal Commission report isn’t expected until December 31, 2015, with the timeframe defended by Justice McClellan when he announced the commission’s first public hearing last month.
He said a South Australian inquiry into abuse in state institutions heard 800 witnesses and took three years, while Ireland’s Ryan Inquiry took nine years.
At the time, he said: “It seems likely that at least 5000 people will want to talk to the commission. The leaders of some groups representing survivors suggest the number could be much higher”.
The commission will also have its own research arm to look at details of all 40 current and finished government inquiries into institutionalised child sexual abuse held over the past 20 years, while the state inquiry has mainly concentrated on verbal and written submissions.