Free Legal Advice regarding the Royal Commission
knowmore (www.knowmore.org.au) is an independent service giving free legal advice to survivors of abuse by providing them with information about the justice and redress options that may be available to them.
Knowmore was heavily involved in supporting people who were considering telling their story or providing information to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It continues to help people receive a National Redress Scheme payment.
The following information is a record of what was available during the Royal Commission, however knowmore continues to provide free legal advice to all people who have experienced abuse.
knowmore has been established by, and is a separate program of, the National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc (NACLC), a not-for-profit, non-government organisation that is the national peak body of Australia's community legal centres, with funding from the Australian Government represented by the Attorney-General's Department.
Their mission is to help each person is considering engaging with the Royal Commission to:
- understand the powers and procedures of the Royal Commission
- understand the legal issues and legal options relevant to him or her
- feel supported to make an informed decision about interacting with the Royal Commission
- be enabled to tell their story or provide information to the Royal Commission if they choose to do so.
What is knowmore and what services does it provide?
knowmore is a free service providing legal advice and assistance, information and referral via a free advice line and face-to-face services in key locations, for people considering telling their story or providing information to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. They have specialist counsellors/social workers to support people accessing our legal services.
Examples of the types of assistance that knowmore provides include:
- information about the Royal Commission, its legal powers and procedures, the roles of the Commissioners and others involved, rights of representation before it and the Commission’s guidelines and statements about how it intends to proceed
- legal advice for people considering providing information to the Royal Commission about their options and what they may mean, and on a range of other legal issues including witness and informant protections, the availability of compensation or other forms of action or redress, and the effect of confidentiality agreements in past proceedings
- linking people with specialist counselling and support services and victims’ support groups
- preparation of statements and assistance with preparing submissions about needed reforms.
knowmore does not provide legal representation but, if needed, will assist people giving evidence in formal hearings before the Royal Commission in finding suitable lawyers for representation and in obtaining funding for that representation. More information is available on our resources page.
knowmore has specialist lawyers and other staff trained and experienced in providing services to survivors of child sexual abuse and people who have experienced trauma.
knowmore has staff trained and experienced in providing culturally safe services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and employs Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.
What is the focus of knowmore?
knowmore’s focus is you. They are here to help you decide whether to engage with the Royal Commission and, if you decide to, how best for you to do that. They do not try and make your decision for you, or pressure you to make any particular decision, but aim to provide you with information and advice so that you can make the right choices.
Will I have to pay anything?
No, all knowmore’s services are free.
Who will be able to get help from knowmore?
Any member of the public who is engaging or considering engaging with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, or someone who is calling on their behalf, can contact knowmore. In the event that knowmore is unable to assist you, they will refer you to an appropriate service provider.
Is knowmore separate from the Royal Commission?
Yes, knowmore is separate from the Royal Commission and will provide independent advice to people seeking assistance. Information provided to knowmore is kept confidential under rules governing the relationship between clients and their lawyers and in accordance with our Privacy and Confidentiality Policy. You can seek advice from knowmore and then choose whether or not you wish to provide your story or information to the Commission.
Who runs knowmore?
knowmore has been established by and is a separate program of the National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc (NACLC). NACLC is a non-government, not-for-profit social justice organisation that is the national peak body of not-for-profit community legal centres in Australia. knowmore is funded by a grant from the Australian Government, represented by the Attorney-General’s Department.
knowmore is an independent legal service. Jenny Hardy is the Executive Officer of knowmore and she is responsible for its day-to-day operations. Warren Strange is the Principal Lawyer responsible for the service’s legal practice. As knowmoreis a program of NACLC, its staff are accountable to the NACLC Management Committee.
Will knowmore only help people who want to provide information to the Royal Commission?
No, knowmore is also available to assist members of the public to explore any other legal options they may have in relation to child sexual abuse in institutions and the institutional responses to child abuse, whether or not you choose to provide information or make a submission to the Royal Commission.
What legal help can I have if I am required to appear before the Royal Commission?
There is government funding available for legal representation for individuals who are appearing before the Royal Commission. This is a separate government scheme, and is not connected to knowmore. However, knowmore can help you apply to that scheme for access to funding and, if you do not have a lawyer to represent you, can help you to find suitable lawyers.
What if I have my own lawyer?
If you have your own lawyer, you will probably wish to keep on working with them. You do not have to use knowmore. If you are appearing before the Royal Commission and already have your own lawyer, you may be able to obtain funding for representation. knowmore can advise you how to access that funding scheme.
Who are the knowmore staff?
knowmore is staffed by lawyers, counsellors/social workers, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural liaison officers – all experienced and trained in working with survivors of sexual abuse and people who have experienced trauma. They are supported by office staff who have also had cultural awareness and trauma informed training. View our staff profiles here.
Will knowmore be working with other services?
Yes, knowmore has established strong partnerships with community legal centres and other legal assistance services, members of the private legal profession and a range of specialist counselling and support services across Australia.
knowmore is in regular consultation with survivors’ groups, the Royal Commission secretariat and the legal team assisting the Commission, and relevant government departments, to ensure that our information and advice services are as up-to-date and informed as possible, and that referral pathways and protocols work as smoothly as possible for our clients.
knowmore is committed, wherever it is practicable and possible to do so, to work in partnership with, and to support the work of, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services. In some cases, these dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services may be unable to assist some clients and in those cases, they will do all they can to provide culturally safe legal assistance to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person wanting our legal advice and support.