The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is an example of a government response to survivors’ demands to address the harm they suffered. It is also a major response by a national government to improve child safety in the future. Facing up to child abuse is difficult and in other countries similar inquiries have suffered delays and derailing. This commentary uses an evidence-to-action lens to explore why clear evidence of child sexual abuse may be ignored and side-lined. It argues that where evidence challenges the powerful, is surprising and shocking, or undercuts current institutional and policy arrangements, then that evidence is likely to be ignored, undermined or refuted – all factors which are present in the case of historical institutional child sexual abuse.