Justice Peter McClellan told a forum organised by victims’ support organisation Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) that redress was a priority and a report would be handed down by mid-2015.
Following Saturday’s 30-minute keynote address, Justice McClellan was asked questions by abuse survivors, many of whom had travelled interstate for a forum marking the 14th anniversary of CLAN.
One woman asked why assets “built on the backs of children” could not be taken back.
Justice McClellan said the issue had been raised especially at a Christian Brothers hearing in Perth.
Boys who were placed in now infamous homes such the Bindoon farm had to build their own institution.
“It is one of the issues we must put into the redress envelope and look at,” Justice McClellan said.
The forum in Bankstown Sports Club was attended by state and federal MPs, as well as former NSW detective Peter Fox, who blew the whistle on Catholic Church abuse cover-ups, and John Ellis – the plaintiff in the now famous case against the Archdiocese of Sydney and George Pell.
They were both presented with certificates of appreciation.
Justice McClellan said that the statute of limitations on suing for abuse was a very significant issue for the commission.
“It is on our priority list but we have to make sure that the recommendation that we might come up with is practical and has real chance of being accepted.”
In his main address, Justice McClellan said some institutions had recognised the need to review past responses but they are “hesitant to move forward without understanding the recommendations which the Royal Commission may make in this area”.
The commission would publish its redress conclusion is a separate report in the middle of next year, he said.
He also said, once the commission made its final recommendations, it would be up to organisations like CLAN to fight to ensure they were implemented.
Peter Fox said the commission had to get the time it needed to finish the job properly.
“In Ireland they have had five or six inquiries. Why? Because at the end of each one, the job has not been finished and has to be continued by a further inquiry.”
He called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to make a decision.
A letter of support from Mr Abbott was read at the opening of the forum, as was a letter from former prime minister Julia Gillard, who established the commission in 2012.
CLAN has been calling for a national independent redress scheme for some years.
CLAN patrons Liberal Western Australia federal MP Steve Irons and Labour MPs Jason Clare and Richard Marles were all presented awards.
Mr Irons told AAP that he had written to the PM and Attorney-General George Brandis to support the extension but that no decision had yet been made.