Royal Commissions and Policy Influence

Royal commissions have been set up in Australia for a plethora of reasons, but their primary purpose has been to investigate and offer recommendations on important issues of public concern. Their perceived independence from the government, investigative powers, access to resources, the status of the commissioner(s), and public-facing nature, all mean royal commissions are uniquely placed to address significant issues and achieve high levels of influence. However, not all royal commissions set up to have policy influence succeed in doing so.

This case examines three royal commissions that did succeed in having policy influence, the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission (ALRC), the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (VBRC), and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (RCIRCSA), and finds three common strategies used by the commissioner(s) with potential lessons for future royal commissions.

Please note this case has a Teaching Note associated with it. To access a copy, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a request and citing the title.

  • Authors: Michael Mintrom, Deirdre O’Neill and Ruby O’Connor
  • Published Date: 17 December 2020
  • Author Institution: Monash University
  • Featured Content Length: 4
  • Content Length: 4
  • Agency Type: Royal Commissions
  • Product Type: One-part case

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