Design unveiled for the National Memorial for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

The Canberra National Memorials Committee has approved the selected design for the National Memorial for Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse allowing construction to commence later this year. 

The successful design created by Jessica Spresser and Peter Besley is titled ‘Transparency and Truth’ and features pathways framed by a series of glass archways that signify strength, fragility and great resilience in recognition of people with lived experience of institutional child sexual abuse and will be surrounded by a field of wildflowers. 

A nine-person jury made up of people with lived experience and design industry experts, chaired by the Hon Peter McClellan AM QC, former Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, was appointed to select the memorial’s design

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston welcomed the outcome of the selection process and was pleased to share the memorial’s design with victims and survivors, their families, supporters and the greater community recognising that the memorial was a pivotal step towards healing for so many. 

“The National Memorial would stand as a place of truth and reflection for people with lived experience and their families and supporters, as well as an enduring reminder of the responsibility to create a safer world for our children,” Minister Ruston said. 

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino said without the strength of victims and survivors, Australia may have never been able to come to terms with the awful truth about the abuse perpetrated in institutions entrusted to care for children. 

"Their voices have created changes in all levels of society to ensure that children are protected from abuse in all institutions now and forever and this memorial will serve as a permanent tribute to them,” Assistant Minister Marino said.

The Memorial will be built on Acton Peninsula in Canberra overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. 

“Due to the scale and significant impact of institutional child sexual abuse it is important that the National Memorial has a permanent place in the heart of the nation’s capital,” Assistant Minister Marino said. 

The Hon Peter McClellan AM QC said he was pleased that the representatives of victims and survivors of abuse who were members of the jury warmly endorsed the design. 

“The National Memorial will provide both a beautiful place for quiet reflection and an opportunity for deepening community understanding of the tragic consequences of abuse,” Mr McClellan said. 

Internationally recognised architects Jessica Spresser and Peter Besley were also recently chosen to design a new Pier Pavilion on Sydney Harbour. 

“The Memorial design seeks to hold in balance an acknowledgement of strength and vitality on the one hand, and recognition of trauma and loss on the other,” they said. 

“The individual pieces of cast glass carry immense loads yet together create forms of exceptional grace and lightness, representing both fragility and great resilience.” 

The Morrison Government committed $6.7 million to establish the National Memorial in response to a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

To learn more about the National Memorial, visit

For more information about the national design competition visit