Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will deliver a landmark apology to survivors of institutional child abuse and their families. Mr Turnbull confirmed he would make the acknowledgement in Canberra on October 22 to coincide with National Children’s Week.
His comments come after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse published its final report in December following a five-year inquiry. The number of victims likely ran into the tens of thousands over the decades, according to the commission’s findings.
Mr Turnbull described the revelations as shocking on Wednesday (June 13), adding that survivors of child abuse had faced denials and indifference for far too long.
Talking at Parliament House, he said: “The survivors that I’ve met and the personal stories that have been told to me have given me but a small insight into the betrayal that you experienced at the hands of the people and institutions who were supposed to protect and care for you.”
The royal commission delivered 409 recommendations after the inquiry, of which 84 discussed the provision of compensation to survivors through a national redress scheme.
Of the remaining 325 suggestions, 122 were aimed either wholly or partly at the Commonwealth. The federal government has agreed (or agreed in principle) to 104 of the recommendations, and the other 18 have not been ruled out.
“Our response is wide-ranging and extensive. We must keep our children safe,” Mr Turnbull stated.
However, one recommendation the Commonwealth will not immediately enact is criminalising the failure of Catholic priests to report instances of child abuse they hear during confessionals.
Attorney-General Christian Porter claimed mandatory reporting will be decided at the state and territory level, so a uniform approach to the confessional problem must wait until that has occurred.
Last week, Western Australia became the last state to sign up to the National Redress Scheme, which means child abuse survivors across the country can pursue compensation for historic crimes.
The initiative offers people up to $150,000, as well as a range of counselling services and apologies from the institutions responsible. In NSW, new laws were recently passed that will also make civil compensation claims against the church and other organisations easier.
We understand that reliving traumatic experiences can cause survivors considerable distress. However, our lawyers are dedicated to providing you and your loved ones with the legal advice, emotional support and compassion needed to pursue justice. Please contact a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today.