Catholic church dismisses key recommendations from landmark inquiry into child abuse

Leaders of the Catholic church in Australia have quickly dismissed calls from a landmark inquiry into child sexual abuse that the Vatican should make celibacy for priests voluntary and end the secrecy of confession.

After five years of work, Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse delivered its 21-volume report to government containing 400 recommendations – 189 of them new – to governments and organisations about how to prevent children being harmed on such a scale again.

It found the inadequacy of canon law contributed to the failure of the Catholic church to protect children and report or punish perpetrators within church institutions.

The commission urged the Australian Catholic bishops conference to ask the Vatican to reform canon law by removing provisions that “prevent, hinder or discourage compliance with mandatory reporting laws by bishops or religious superiors”.

“We recommend that canon law be amended so that the ‘pontifical secret’ does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse,” the report said.

It also said the conference should urge the Vatican to rethink its celibacy rules. The commission found that while celibacy for clergy was not a direct cause of abuse, it elevated the risk when compulsorily celibate male clergy or religious figures had privileged access to children.

rethink its celibacy rules. The commission found that while celibacy for clergy was not a direct cause of abuse, it elevated the risk when compulsorily celibate male clergy or religious figures had privileged access to children.

But the archbishop of the archdiocese of Melbourne , Denis Hart, responded by saying the seal of the confessional was “inviolable” and “can’t be broken”. He said if someone confessed to abusing children, he would encourage them to admit to their crimes outside the confessional so that it could be reported to police.

, Denis Hart, responded by saying the seal of the confessional was “inviolable” and “can’t be broken”. He said if someone confessed to abusing children, he would encourage them to admit to their crimes outside the confessional so that it could be reported to police.

“I would feel terribly conflicted, and I would try even harder to get that person outside confessional, but I cannot break the seal,” he said. “The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication.”

In August, Hart upset many abuse survivors and advocates when he said he would risk going to jail rather than report allegations of child sexual abuse raised during confession . He was responding to a recommendation the commission published earlier this year that called for failure to report child sex abuse in institutions to be made a criminal offence.

he would risk going to jail rather than report allegations of child sexual abuse raised during confession

. He was responding to a recommendation the commission published earlier this year that called for failure to report child sex abuse in institutions to be made a criminal offence.

Hart reiterated those views on Friday and said that he did not expect canon law to change. He said there was “real value” in celibacy, and did not want laws to be changed.

“I think it’s taken time for bishops to realise the seriousness of the matter” of child sexual abuse, he said.

The Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said the report would take him time to digest. “It will not sit on any shelf,” he said. “I will study the findings and recommendations carefully, and then provide a detailed response as we discern, with the rest of the community, the best way forward.

However, like Hart, he dismissed calls to change confession. Changing mandatory reporting of abuse that comes to light through confession was “a distraction,” he said.

“While we are yet to study what the commission has had to say about that, I think everyone understands that this Catholic and orthodox practice of confession is always confidential,” he said. “Any proposal to stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians.”

On celibacy rules, he said: “We know very well that institutions who have celibate clergy and institutions that don’t have celibate clergy both face these problems. We know very well that this happens in families that are certainly not observing celibacy.”

Denis Hart, archbishop of Melbourne, speaking to the media after the publication of the royal commission report. Photograph: David Crosling/AAP

The commission is the largest inquiry of its kind conducted since the first reports of what became a global child abuse scandal emerged in the US.

The report found an overwhelming amount of the abuse reported to the commission occurred in faith-based institutions. Almost 2,500 survivors told the commission about sexual abuse in an institution managed by the Catholic church, representing 61.8% of all survivors who reported sexual abuse in a religious institution.

“In many religious institutions, the power afforded to people in religious ministry and the misplaced trust of parents combined with aspects of the institutional culture, practices and attitudes to create risks for children,” the report said.

“Alleged perpetrators often continued to have access to children even when religious leaders knew they posed a danger.

“We heard that alleged perpetrators were often transferred to other locations but they were rarely reported to police. The failure to understand that the sexual abuse of a child was a crime with profound impacts for the victim, and not a mere moral failure capable of correction by contrition and penance (a view expressed in the past by a number of religious leaders) is almost incomprehensible.”

The report said the Australian Catholic bishops conference should conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of dioceses and parishes, including in relation to issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and the participation of lay men and women.

The commission also called for the selection criteria for employing bishops to be published, including their credentials relating to the promotion of child safety. The commission called on churches to “establish a transparent process for appointing bishops which includes the direct participation of lay people”.

It found that Catholic schools in the archdiocese of Melbourne had a “dysfunctional” employment structure, where the parish priest is the employer of the school principal and school staff for parish schools.

“There is a risk that having the priest as employer could act as a barrier to people reporting concerns about child sexual abuse,” the report found. “We recommend that parish priests should not be the employers of principals and teachers in Catholic schools.”

The commissioners found numerous cases where alleged perpetrators were priests associated with Catholic schools.

“We concluded that the relevant bishop or archbishop knew about allegations of child sexual abuse but failed to take appropriate action to protect children from the risk of abuse, sometimes for years. Their inaction left these priests in positions where they had ongoing access to children in Catholic schools. It was left to principals and teachers to attempt to manage the risk these individuals posed to children.”

Among the other recommendations were that federal, state and territory governments should fund dedicated community support services for victims and survivors in each jurisdiction; that the federal government should conduct and publish a national study to establish the extent of child maltreatment in institutional and non-institutional settings ; that each state and territory make the failure to report suspicions of abuse a crime, and also remove any remaining limitation periods, or any remaining immunities, that apply to child sexual abuse offences, including historical child sexual abuse offences.

Among the other recommendations were that federal, state and territory governments should fund dedicated community support services for victims and survivors in each jurisdiction; that the federal government should conduct and publish a national study to establish the extent of child maltreatment in institutional and non-institutional settings

that each state and territory make the failure to report suspicions of abuse a crime, and also remove any remaining limitation periods, or any remaining immunities, that apply to child sexual abuse offences, including historical child sexual abuse offences.

The commission, led by Justice Peter McClellan, heard stories of abuse that occurred in more than 4,000 institutions ranging from religious organisations and sporting clubs to schools and orphanages. More than 15,000 people contacted the commission with evidence.

More than 8,000 people spoke to a commissioner during a private sessions, while hundreds more told their stories through public hearings that lasted 444 days. The commission referred many allegations of abuse to police, which to date has resulted in 230 prosecutions.

Two versions of the report were delivered to the government on Friday, one of which has been redacted for publication until a number of criminal proceedings have been completed.

Inquiries into the sexual abuse of children have been conducted worldwide, with Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse finding abuse in church-run institutions including schools was endemic. But that commission has been criticised for its limited scope, and did not examine the external impact of the abuse or name perpetrators to the extent that Australia’s royal commission already has. A British inquiry into child sexual abuse, still under way, has been marred by controversy. Its head, Dame Lowell Goddard, was forced to step down in 2016 after it was revealed she had spent extensive time on holiday.

Inquiries into the sexual abuse of children have been conducted worldwide, with Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse finding abuse in church-run institutions including schools was endemic. But that commission has been criticised for its limited scope, and did not examine the external impact of the abuse or name perpetrators to the extent that Australia’s royal commission already has. A British inquiry into child sexual abuse, still under way, has been marred by controversy. Its head, Dame Lowell Goddard, was

Australia’s commission has been consistently praised by survivors, their advocates and experts for its uncompromising investigation of institutional abuse. It conducted 57 case studies, resulting in 45 reports to government, culminating in Friday’s final report. It has employed almost 700 staff since its inception in 2013, who examined more than 1.2m documents. McClellan chaired the commission throughout. The royal commission reviewed more than 300 reports published in the past 28 years, using many of these to inform its work.

The royal commission was first announced on 12 November 2012 by the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, who said allegations that had come to light about child sexual abuse were heartbreaking.

“These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject,” she said at the time. “The individuals concerned deserve the most thorough of investigations into the wrongs that have been committed against them. They deserve to have their voices heard and their claims investigated.”

“Our nation is indebted to you and to the survivors who fought so hard for justice and a safer future for our children,” she said. The current prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told reporters the commission’s work had uncovered a “national tragedy”.

“Above all, I want to thank and honour the courage of the survivors and their families who’ve told, often for the first time, the dreadful stories of abuse that they received from people who actually owed them love and protection,” he said.

Turnbull has come under pressure for already ignoring recommendations made by the royal commission around a national redress scheme for survivors. The federal government’s redress legislation has attracted criticism for excluding abuse survivors who have been convicted of serious crimes, and for capping redress at $150,000. The royal commission recommended a cap of $200,000. The legislation has been referred to a Senate inquiry by the shadow social services minister, Jenny Macklin. State and territory governments have also been slow to commit to the legislation.

The commission found: “We heard from some survivors about their negative experiences with diocese-based redress schemes, including delays, inconvenient processes, and perceptions that the maximum payments available through these schemes were inadequate.”

Experts have already expressed concerns that the commission’s recommendations will only be as effective as the state, territory and federal governments and institutions tasked with implementing them.

that the commission’s recommendations will only be as effective as the state, territory and federal governments and institutions tasked with implementing them.

The commissioners’ report found 64.3% of survivors were men. More than half were aged between 10 and 14 years when they were first sexually abused, though female survivors generally reported being younger. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprised 14.3% of survivors, and 93.8% of survivors told the commission they were abused by a male. The commission found 83.8% of survivors were abused by an adult, and the average duration of child sexual abuse experienced in institutions was 2.2 years. Of survivors, 36.3% said they were abused by multiple perpetrators.

“A national memorial should be commissioned by the Australian government for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts,” the report recommended. “Victims and survivors should be consulted on the memorial design and it should be located in Canberra.”

See Also : www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au

On 12 November 2012 the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced that she would recommend to the Governor-General that a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into institutional responses to child abuse.

Following this announcement, the Terms of Reference were established and six Commissioners were appointed on Friday, 11 January 2013 by Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM was the chair of the Royal Commission and worked with the five other Commissioners, Mr Bob Atkinson AO APM, Justice Jennifer Coate, Mr Robert Fitzgerald AM, Professor Helen Milroy and Mr Andrew Murray. Visit Our Commissioners to read their full biographies.

were established and six Commissioners were appointed on Friday, 11 January 2013 by Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM was the chair of the Royal Commission and worked with the five other Commissioners, Mr Bob Atkinson AO APM, Justice Jennifer Coate, Mr Robert Fitzgerald AM, Professor Helen Milroy and Mr Andrew Murray. Visit

On 15 December 2017 the Royal Commission presented a final report to the Governor-General, detailing the culmination of a five year inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and related matters.

includes a summary of the final report and a complete list of all recommendations. Final information update contains statistics from the group of survivors we heard from in 8,013 private sessions, held between May 2013 and November 2017.

introduces the Final Report, describes the establishment, scope and operations of the Royal Commission.

describes what the Royal Commission has learned about the nature and cause of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. It includes

explains the impacts of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts on survivors and often on their family members, friends, and entire communities.

examines survivors’ experiences of child sexual abuse as told to Commissioners during private sessions.

describes what we learned about survivors’ experiences of, and institutional responses to, child sexual abuse in residential institutions pre-1990.

examines what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in contemporary out-of-home care. It includes

describes what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in schools. It includes

looks at what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in sport and recreation contexts. It includes

reviews what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in contemporary detention environments. It includes

examines what we learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in religious institutions. It includes

describes the impact and legacy of the Royal Commission and discusses monitoring and reporting on the implementation of our recommendations. It includes

See Also : www.sbs.com.au

A royal commission argues Australia needs a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse as it warns governments and institutions they must not fail children again.

The inquiry has controversially suggested the Catholic Church consider voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses abandon a 2000-year-old rule in handling child sex abuse cases and stop shunning victims who leave the organisation.

It again called for strengthened and nationally consistent mandatory reporting laws that include people in religious ministry and no exemption when the information came from a religious confession.

It also wants abusers stripped of any honours and a national memorial to recognise the tens of thousands of children sexually abused in more than 4000 Australian institutions.

The royal commission’s 17-volume final report has more than 400 recommendations, the bulk of which have already been released, aimed at making institutions safer for children.

It also places blame on state instruments, such as the police, child protection agencies and the justice system.

The government has pledged $52.1 million to support abuse victims’ access to redress from a national scheme, along with a parliamentary committee, to be chaired by crossbench senator Derryn Hinch.

“As you go through that book… you see this repeated: ‘thank you for hearing me, thank you for believing me. The first time someone in authority has listened to me has heard my story’.”

The $500 million, five-year inquiry into how churches, charities and other organisations handled abuse of children concluded that abuse happened “in almost every type of institution where children reside or attend”.

“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused,” it says, but “we will never know the true number”.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who established the Royal Commission, expressed her thanks to the Commissioners and staff as well as survivors “who fought so hard for justice and a safer future for our children.”

On this historic day, my personal thanks go to the Royal Commissioners and all who supported their work. Our nation is indebted to you and to the survivors who fought so hard for justice and a safer future for our children. JG

The commission has given the federal, state and territory governments six months to respond to its recommendations and wants institutions to report on how they have implemented its reforms in a year’s time.

More than 8,000 survivors told their personal stories, and a further 1,000 provided written accounts.

Almost all of the survivors, more than 64 per cent of whom were male, allege they were abused by an adult male, with most saying they were in their early teens when the abuse first happened.

The majority of religious institutions where abuse is believed to have taken place were Catholic-run, where leaders often had unsupervised access to, and authority over, children.

Those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds say they often felt isolated as children, and faced discrimination from the broader society – something many perpetrators took advantage of.

The 14.3 per cent of survivors who were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background describe the combined pain of being abused and being separated from their family and culture, and of passing this trauma down to future generations.

Some recommendations have already been made and acted upon, including toughening background checks and establishing a redress scheme, which is still in progress.

Refusing compensation to survivors of child abuse who have gone on to commit serious crimes is of serious concern to advocates.

Mr Turnbull says blocking access to convicted criminals is government policy, but he understands the argument many had landed in jail because of the abuse they had suffered.

“But equally, you can understand how many people would be uncomfortable with and opposed to people who have committed serious offences then being provided compensation by government,” he told 3AW radio on Friday.

The prime minister left the door open to revisiting the prohibition as the Commonwealth tries to finalise the redress scheme.

Opposition families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin, who helped establish the commission with former prime minister Gillard, said it was now up to the Turnbull government to step up.

And she urged all states, as well as the institutions responsible, to be a part of the redress scheme.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said many of the reforms recommended were already underway in her state.

“I am pleased that a number of reforms that go to the heart of the commission’s recommendations have either already been implemented or are underway in Queensland,” she said.

While New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state would work to ensure this situation wouldn’t be repeated.

“The royal commission heard evidence of shocking and appalling abuse perpetrated on children by the very people who were supposed to care for them. We will work to ensure that this situation cannot happen again,” she said.

See Also : www.perthnow.com.au

THE abuse royal commission has recommended a national memorial for child sex abuse survivors and a national strategy to prevent future abuse, including appointing a federal minister for children’s issues.

The $500 million, five-year royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse handed over its final 17-volume report on Friday, having heard harrowing evidence from thousands of survivors in numerous church, sporting, government and community organisations.

“There is no simple explanation for why child sexual abuse has occurred in a multitude of institutions,” the final report says.

“However, we have identified a number of ways in which institutions may, inadvertently or otherwise, enable or create opportunities for abuse.”

This includes creating a ministerial portfolio with responsibility for children’s policy issues, and establishing a National Framework for Child Safety to provide a response to the implementation of the Child Safe Standards.

It wants the federal government to oversee the development and implementation of a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse.

Federal and state government have been asked to respond to the commission’s 189 recommendations within six months.

“Australian society must never go back to a state of denial about the nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts.”

It’s also recommended the royal commission website and reports from their work be archived within 12 months, so that the stories are not forgotten.

The royal commission, announced by then prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012, held its first public hearing in September 2013 and sat for 444 days in public.

The commission says tens of thousands of children were allegedly abused in more than 4000 institutions, but the true number would never be known.

It heard from more than 1300 witnesses in public hearings and was contacted by more than 15,000 survivors or their relatives.

Many survivors thanked the commission for finally allowing their stories to be heard. The commission has recommended that these stories and victims should not be forgotten.

“Memorials honour those who have suffered and provide opportunities to remember the past and think about the future. They provide a specific place for families and wider society to reflect on the trauma of survivors and mourn the victims lost.”

It has also recommended that institutions that have honours or dedications to known abusers remove them, and governments should strip them of any honours

See Also : www.sbs.com.au

Child abuse royal commission chair Justice Peter McClellan has again warned the sexual abuse of children is not just a problem from the past, with children continuing to be abused in institutions today.

He said many institutions failed children over many decades while the child protection, criminal and civil justice systems let them down.

The royal commission has already called for significant reforms in areas such as the criminal and civil Systems, as well as measures to make institutions safe for children.

“There may be leaders and members of some institutions who resent the intrusion of the royal commission into their affairs,” Justice McClellan told the final sitting of the five-year inquiry in Sydney on Thursday.

Federal Labor MP Jenny Macklin at the final sitting of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney on 14 December, 2017.

Justice McClellan paid tribute to the child abuse survivors who shared their stories with the inquiry, saying they have helped the commission what should be done to make Australian institutions safer in the future.

More than 4000 individual institutions have been reported to the royal commission as places where abuse occurred, with tens of thousands of victims.

Justice McClellan said the number of children who are sexually abused in family settings or other circumstances far exceeds those abused in institutions.

Every person who attended a private session was invited to send the RC a short written message. They’ve been published in a book called ‘A Message to Australia’ and will be held at the National Library of Australia @SBSNews

Every person who attended a private session was invited to send the RC a short written message. They’ve been published in a book called ‘A Message to Australia’ and will be held at the National Library of Australia

“The tragic impact of abuse for individuals, and, through them, our entire society, demands nothing less.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten attended the final sitting with both acknowledging the courage of survivors.

“In terms of the royal commission, the fact that eight thousand people had private discussions and talking about their stories, the fact that literally hundreds and hundreds of prosecutions are now underway,” Mr Shorten said.

Malcolm Turnbull says the government will review the recommendations from the royal commission into child abuse.

“The tens of thousands of people involved in this process speaks volumes for what is as the royal commissioner described it, a national tragedy, a national shame.”

The royal commission released 1,054 ‘Message to Australia’ cards from the brave people that told their story to the commission.

The messages will be displayed at the National Library of Australia and remain as a tribute to survivors for their courage coming forward.

“All I ask of the Royal Commission is that all who had the courage of sharing their living hell, will at last be believed. I thank the Commissioners and staff for their compassion,” one read.

See Also : www.abc.net.au

Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart has said he does not fully support some of the 189 new recommendations delivered by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The sanctity of the religious confessional would be tossed aside and celibacy would become voluntary under the new recommendations, many of which are aimed at making children safer.

In what would be a shake-up of centuries of tradition, the recommendations called for an overhaul of confessional, with religious ministers forced to report any child sexual abuse revealed to them.

But Archbishop Hart says he does not support any changes to confession that would force a priest to report information to authorities.

“I revere the law of the land and I trust it but this is a sacred, spiritual charge before God which I must honour and I have to respect and try to do what I can do with both,” Archbishop Hart said.

Archbishop Hart cautioned against making changes to confessional, saying it was a “serious spiritual matter”.

He admitted that if someone revealed their child abuse to him in confessional, he would feel “terribly conflicted” but he would not break the seal.

“The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication, being cast out of the church, so it’s a real, serious, spiritual matter,” he said.

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher also warned against changing confessional, describing it as a “distraction”.

“I think any proposal to effectively stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians and I don’t think would help any young person,” he said.

“I think if young people are to be kept safe, focusing on something like confession is just a distraction.”

Of all the survivors who reported abuse in religious institutions, more than 60 per cent said it had happened at the hands of the Catholic Church.

The royal commission report said the Catholics had demonstrated “catastrophic failures of leadership”, particularly before the 1990s.

The report also called for the Catholic Church to make celibacy voluntary for its clergy, saying it contributed to child abuse.

While the details of much child abuse uncovered by the royal commission had been published already, today’s report is the final, most comprehensive reckoning for religious, government and other institutions put under the microscope over the past five years.

Alongside recommendations made to churches, it called for a new criminal offence to be created that would make it easier to prosecute institutions who had failed to protect children.

Among the other recommendations were the creation of a new National Office for Child Safety and a website and helpline to report child abuse.

The report estimated the number of child victims in the tens of thousands, saying their abusers were “not just a few rotten apples”.

“Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.”

The report is told over 17 volumes — its length reflecting the exhaustive process which included 57 public hearings and 8,000 private sessions. A total of 409 recommendations have been made.

About 4,000 institutions were reported to the royal commission, which heard from 1,200 witnesses over 400 days of testimony.

Chief Royal Commissioner, Justice Peter McClellan AM, handed the report to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove Friday morning.

“It’s been very tough, often harrowing work, but above all, I want to thank and honour the courage of the survivors and their families who’ve told, often for the first time, the dreadful stories of abuse that they received from people who actually owed them love and protection,” he said.

In its findings, the royal commission said all Jewish institutions in Australia should explicitly state a Jewish law, known as mesirah — which forbids a Jew from informing on another Jew — does not apply to the reporting of allegations of child sexual abuse to police.

It said the Anglican Church should adopt a uniform standards framework to ensure bishops and former bishops are accountable to an appropriate authority or body in relation to their response to complaints of child sexual abuse.

It also recommended the Jehovah’s Witness organisation scrap the two-witness rule — which requires two eye witnesses to an allegation of sexual abuse — in cases involving children.

The royal commission called for changes to current laws, which would make it easier for a defendant ‘ s criminal history to be revealed in court.

It said state and territory governments should introduce legislation to provide that good character be excluded as a mitigating factor in sentencing for child sexual abuse, with the exception of New South Wales and South Australia.

The royal commission called for state and territory governments to extend grooming laws, so that it’s not just an offence to groom a child, but it is also an offence to groom their parents or carers.

The report also urged state and territory governments to provide nationally consistent guidance to teachers and principals on how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.

It said particular emphasis should be placed on monitoring boarding schools to ensure they meet the Child Safe Standards.

It said the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) should review minimum national requirements for assessing the suitability of teachers.

The final report said it was believed that thousands of children may have been harmed by other children’s sexual behaviours in Australia each year.

“We also believe exposure to violent or harmful practices in an institutional context is a risk factor for exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours,” it said.

The report said institutions may have enabled harmful sexual behaviours by allowing a “culture of violence and intimidation to prevail” so that abuse was “normalised”.

Topics:
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child-abuse ,

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australia

See Also : www.msn.com

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has delivered its final report, with 189 recommendations designed to make children safer.

While the details of much child abuse uncovered by the royal commission had been published already, today’s report is the final, most comprehensive reckoning for religious, government and other institutions put under the microscope over the past five years.

In what would be a shake-up of centuries of tradition, the recommendations called for an overhaul of confessional, with religious ministers forced to report any child sexual abuse revealed to them.

The report also called for the Catholic Church to make celibacy voluntary for its clergy, saying it contributed to child abuse.

(c) AAP: Tracey Nearmy
The royal commission’s stories of survival book was “too heavy to lift”.

And it called for a new criminal offence to be created that would make it easier to prosecute institutions who had failed to protect children.

to be created that would make it easier to prosecute institutions who had failed to protect children.

Among the other recommendations were the creation of a new National Office for Child Safety and a website and helpline to report child abuse.

The report estimated the number of child victims in the tens of thousands, saying their abusers were “not just a few rotten apples”.

“Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.”

(c) ABC News/ Colin Kerr
Abuse survivors Paul Gray (L) and Peter Gogarty (R) were glued to the coverage.

The report is told over 17 volumes — its length reflecting the exhaustive process which included 57 public hearings and 8,000 private sessions. A total of 409 recommendations have been made.

The report is told over 17 volumes — its length reflecting the exhaustive process which included 57 public hearings and 8,000 private sessions. A total of 409 recommendations have been made.

About 4,000 institutions were reported to the royal commission, which heard from 1,200 witnesses over 400 days of testimony.

Chief Royal Commissioner, Justice Peter McClellan AM, handed the report to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove this morning.

“It’s been very tough, often harrowing work, but above all, I want to thank and honour the courage of the survivors and their families who’ve told, often for the first time, the dreadful stories of abuse that they received from people who actually owed them love and protection,” he said.

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher warned against changing confessional, describing it as a “distraction”.

“I think any proposal to effectively stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians and I don’t think would help any young person,” he said.

“I think if young people are to be kept safe, focusing on something like confession is just a distraction.”

Of all the survivors who reported abuse in religious institutions, more than 60 per cent said it had happened at the hands of the Catholic Church.

The royal commission report said the Catholics had demonstrated “catastrophic failures of leadership”, particularly before the 1990s.

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dennis Hart, also cautioned against making changes to confessional, saying it was a “serious spiritual matter”.

He admitted that if someone revealed their child abuse to him in confessional, he would feel “terribly conflicted” but that he would not break the seal.

“The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication, being cast out of the church, so it’s a real, serious, spiritual matter,” he said.

In its findings, the royal commission said all Jewish institutions in Australia should explicitly state a Jewish law, known as mesirah — which forbids a Jew from informing on another Jew — does not apply to the reporting of allegations of child sexual abuse to police.

In its findings, the royal commission said all Jewish institutions in Australia should explicitly state a Jewish law, known as

— which forbids a Jew from informing on another Jew — does not apply to the reporting of allegations of child sexual abuse to police.

It said the Anglican Church should adopt a uniform standards framework to ensure bishops and former bishops are accountable to an appropriate authority or body in relation to their response to complaints of child sexual abuse.

It also recommended the Jehovah’s Witness organisation scrap the two-witness rule — which requires two eye witnesses to an allegation of sexual abuse — in cases involving children.

The royal commission called for changes to current laws, which would make it easier for a defendant’s criminal history to be revealed in court.

It said state and territory governments should introduce legislation to provide that good character be excluded as a mitigating factor in sentencing for child sexual abuse, with the exception of New South Wales and South Australia.

excluded as a mitigating factor in sentencing for child sexual abuse, with the exception of New South Wales and South Australia.

The royal commission also called for state and territory governments to extend grooming laws, so that it’s not just an offence to groom a child, but it is also an offence to groom their parents or carers.

The royal commission also called for state and territory governments to extend grooming laws, so that it’s not just an

The report also urged state and territory governments to provide nationally consistent guidance to teachers and principals on how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.

It said particular emphasis should be placed on monitoring boarding schools to ensure they meet the Child Safe Standards.

It said the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) should review minimum national requirements for assessing the suitability of teachers.

The final report said it was believed that thousands of children may have been harmed by other children’s sexual behaviours in Australia each year.

The final report said it was believed that thousands of children may have been harmed by other children’s sexual

“We also believe exposure to violent or harmful practices in an institutional context is a risk factor for exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours ,” it said.

“We also believe exposure to violent or harmful practices in an institutional context is a risk factor for exhibiting harmful sexual

The report said institutions may have enabled harmful sexual behaviours by allowing a “culture of violence and intimidation to prevail” so that abuse was ” normalised “.

See Also : www.newsx.com

A five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia released its final report on Friday with 1,300 witness accounts and over 8,000 harrowing stories from survivors. The royal commission uncovered harrowing evidence of sexual abuse within institutions, including churches, schools and sports clubs, reports the BBC. Since 2013, it has referred more than 2,500 allegations to authorities. The final report added 189 recommendations to 220 that had already been made public. “Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number.

“Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions. It is not a case of a few ‘rotten apples’. Society’s major institutions have seriously failed,” its added. Religious ministers and school teachers were the most commonly reported perpetrators and the greatest number of alleged perpetrators and abused children were in Catholic institutions, the report said. The commission had previously recommended that Catholic clerics should face criminal charges if they fail to report sexual abuse disclosed to them during confession.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned the findings and said: “It is an outstanding exercise in love, and I thank the commissioners and those who have the courage to tell their stories – thank you very much.” The proposals will now be considered by legislators, the BBC reported. The royal commission, Australia’s highest form of public inquiry, had been contacted by more than 15,000 people, including relatives and friends of abuse victims. More than 8,000 victims told their stories, many for the first time, in private sessions with commissioners.

The inquiry also received more than 1,300 written accounts and held 57 public hearings across the nation. Royal commission chair Peter McClellan said that the second version of the report will be published once all the criminal proceedings are completed. The royal commission was established at the end of 2012 by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It has over the years made a series of recommendations on how to compensate victims as well as background checks on persons working with minors and proposed more severe punishment for abusers.

Leaders of the Catholic church in Australia have quickly dismissed calls from a landmark inquiry into child sexual abuse that the Vatican should make celibacy for priests voluntary and end the secrecy of confession.

After five years of work, Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse delivered its 21-volume report to government containing 400 recommendations – 189 of them new – to governments and organisations about how to prevent children being harmed on such a scale again.

It found the inadequacy of canon law contributed to the failure of the Catholic church to protect children and report or punish perpetrators within church institutions.

The commission urged the Australian Catholic bishops conference to ask the Vatican to reform canon law by removing provisions that “prevent, hinder or discourage compliance with mandatory reporting laws by bishops or religious superiors”.

“We recommend that canon law be amended so that the ‘pontifical secret’ does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse,” the report said.

It also said the conference should urge the Vatican to rethink its celibacy rules. The commission found that while celibacy for clergy was not a direct cause of abuse, it elevated the risk when compulsorily celibate male clergy or religious figures had privileged access to children.

rethink its celibacy rules. The commission found that while celibacy for clergy was not a direct cause of abuse, it elevated the risk when compulsorily celibate male clergy or religious figures had privileged access to children.

But the archbishop of the archdiocese of Melbourne , Denis Hart, responded by saying the seal of the confessional was “inviolable” and “can’t be broken”. He said if someone confessed to abusing children, he would encourage them to admit to their crimes outside the confessional so that it could be reported to police.

, Denis Hart, responded by saying the seal of the confessional was “inviolable” and “can’t be broken”. He said if someone confessed to abusing children, he would encourage them to admit to their crimes outside the confessional so that it could be reported to police.

“I would feel terribly conflicted, and I would try even harder to get that person outside confessional, but I cannot break the seal,” he said. “The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication.”

In August, Hart upset many abuse survivors and advocates when he said he would risk going to jail rather than report allegations of child sexual abuse raised during confession . He was responding to a recommendation the commission published earlier this year that called for failure to report child sex abuse in institutions to be made a criminal offence.

he would risk going to jail rather than report allegations of child sexual abuse raised during confession

. He was responding to a recommendation the commission published earlier this year that called for failure to report child sex abuse in institutions to be made a criminal offence.

Hart reiterated those views on Friday and said that he did not expect canon law to change. He said there was “real value” in celibacy, and did not want laws to be changed.

“I think it’s taken time for bishops to realise the seriousness of the matter” of child sexual abuse, he said.

The Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said the report would take him time to digest. “It will not sit on any shelf,” he said. “I will study the findings and recommendations carefully, and then provide a detailed response as we discern, with the rest of the community, the best way forward.

However, like Hart, he dismissed calls to change confession. Changing mandatory reporting of abuse that comes to light through confession was “a distraction,” he said.

“While we are yet to study what the commission has had to say about that, I think everyone understands that this Catholic and orthodox practice of confession is always confidential,” he said. “Any proposal to stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians.”

On celibacy rules, he said: “We know very well that institutions who have celibate clergy and institutions that don’t have celibate clergy both face these problems. We know very well that this happens in families that are certainly not observing celibacy.”

Denis Hart, archbishop of Melbourne, speaking to the media after the publication of the royal commission report. Photograph: David Crosling/AAP

The commission is the largest inquiry of its kind conducted since the first reports of what became a global child abuse scandal emerged in the US.

The report found an overwhelming amount of the abuse reported to the commission occurred in faith-based institutions. Almost 2,500 survivors told the commission about sexual abuse in an institution managed by the Catholic church, representing 61.8% of all survivors who reported sexual abuse in a religious institution.

“In many religious institutions, the power afforded to people in religious ministry and the misplaced trust of parents combined with aspects of the institutional culture, practices and attitudes to create risks for children,” the report said.

“Alleged perpetrators often continued to have access to children even when religious leaders knew they posed a danger.

“We heard that alleged perpetrators were often transferred to other locations but they were rarely reported to police. The failure to understand that the sexual abuse of a child was a crime with profound impacts for the victim, and not a mere moral failure capable of correction by contrition and penance (a view expressed in the past by a number of religious leaders) is almost incomprehensible.”

The report said the Australian Catholic bishops conference should conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of dioceses and parishes, including in relation to issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and the participation of lay men and women.

The commission also called for the selection criteria for employing bishops to be published, including their credentials relating to the promotion of child safety. The commission called on churches to “establish a transparent process for appointing bishops which includes the direct participation of lay people”.

It found that Catholic schools in the archdiocese of Melbourne had a “dysfunctional” employment structure, where the parish priest is the employer of the school principal and school staff for parish schools.

“There is a risk that having the priest as employer could act as a barrier to people reporting concerns about child sexual abuse,” the report found. “We recommend that parish priests should not be the employers of principals and teachers in Catholic schools.”

The commissioners found numerous cases where alleged perpetrators were priests associated with Catholic schools.

“We concluded that the relevant bishop or archbishop knew about allegations of child sexual abuse but failed to take appropriate action to protect children from the risk of abuse, sometimes for years. Their inaction left these priests in positions where they had ongoing access to children in Catholic schools. It was left to principals and teachers to attempt to manage the risk these individuals posed to children.”

Among the other recommendations were that federal, state and territory governments should fund dedicated community support services for victims and survivors in each jurisdiction; that the federal government should conduct and publish a national study to establish the extent of child maltreatment in institutional and non-institutional settings ; that each state and territory make the failure to report suspicions of abuse a crime, and also remove any remaining limitation periods, or any remaining immunities, that apply to child sexual abuse offences, including historical child sexual abuse offences.

Among the other recommendations were that federal, state and territory governments should fund dedicated community support services for victims and survivors in each jurisdiction; that the federal government should conduct and publish a national study to establish the extent of child maltreatment in institutional and non-institutional settings

that each state and territory make the failure to report suspicions of abuse a crime, and also remove any remaining limitation periods, or any remaining immunities, that apply to child sexual abuse offences, including historical child sexual abuse offences.

The commission, led by Justice Peter McClellan, heard stories of abuse that occurred in more than 4,000 institutions ranging from religious organisations and sporting clubs to schools and orphanages. More than 15,000 people contacted the commission with evidence.

More than 8,000 people spoke to a commissioner during a private sessions, while hundreds more told their stories through public hearings that lasted 444 days. The commission referred many allegations of abuse to police, which to date has resulted in 230 prosecutions.

Two versions of the report were delivered to the government on Friday, one of which has been redacted for publication until a number of criminal proceedings have been completed.

Inquiries into the sexual abuse of children have been conducted worldwide, with Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse finding abuse in church-run institutions including schools was endemic. But that commission has been criticised for its limited scope, and did not examine the external impact of the abuse or name perpetrators to the extent that Australia’s royal commission already has. A British inquiry into child sexual abuse, still under way, has been marred by controversy. Its head, Dame Lowell Goddard, was forced to step down in 2016 after it was revealed she had spent extensive time on holiday.

Inquiries into the sexual abuse of children have been conducted worldwide, with Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse finding abuse in church-run institutions including schools was endemic. But that commission has been criticised for its limited scope, and did not examine the external impact of the abuse or name perpetrators to the extent that Australia’s royal commission already has. A British inquiry into child sexual abuse, still under way, has been marred by controversy. Its head, Dame Lowell Goddard, was

Australia’s commission has been consistently praised by survivors, their advocates and experts for its uncompromising investigation of institutional abuse. It conducted 57 case studies, resulting in 45 reports to government, culminating in Friday’s final report. It has employed almost 700 staff since its inception in 2013, who examined more than 1.2m documents. McClellan chaired the commission throughout. The royal commission reviewed more than 300 reports published in the past 28 years, using many of these to inform its work.

The royal commission was first announced on 12 November 2012 by the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, who said allegations that had come to light about child sexual abuse were heartbreaking.

“These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject,” she said at the time. “The individuals concerned deserve the most thorough of investigations into the wrongs that have been committed against them. They deserve to have their voices heard and their claims investigated.”

“Our nation is indebted to you and to the survivors who fought so hard for justice and a safer future for our children,” she said. The current prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told reporters the commission’s work had uncovered a “national tragedy”.

“Above all, I want to thank and honour the courage of the survivors and their families who’ve told, often for the first time, the dreadful stories of abuse that they received from people who actually owed them love and protection,” he said.

Turnbull has come under pressure for already ignoring recommendations made by the royal commission around a national redress scheme for survivors. The federal government’s redress legislation has attracted criticism for excluding abuse survivors who have been convicted of serious crimes, and for capping redress at $150,000. The royal commission recommended a cap of $200,000. The legislation has been referred to a Senate inquiry by the shadow social services minister, Jenny Macklin. State and territory governments have also been slow to commit to the legislation.

The commission found: “We heard from some survivors about their negative experiences with diocese-based redress schemes, including delays, inconvenient processes, and perceptions that the maximum payments available through these schemes were inadequate.”

Experts have already expressed concerns that the commission’s recommendations will only be as effective as the state, territory and federal governments and institutions tasked with implementing them.

that the commission’s recommendations will only be as effective as the state, territory and federal governments and institutions tasked with implementing them.

The commissioners’ report found 64.3% of survivors were men. More than half were aged between 10 and 14 years when they were first sexually abused, though female survivors generally reported being younger. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprised 14.3% of survivors, and 93.8% of survivors told the commission they were abused by a male. The commission found 83.8% of survivors were abused by an adult, and the average duration of child sexual abuse experienced in institutions was 2.2 years. Of survivors, 36.3% said they were abused by multiple perpetrators.

“A national memorial should be commissioned by the Australian government for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts,” the report recommended. “Victims and survivors should be consulted on the memorial design and it should be located in Canberra.”

There are 189 recommendations and AAP has gathered a quick list of some of the most significant ones.

– Office to report to parliament, develop new national framework for child safety, and become a stand-alone body within 18 months

– New criminal offence, called failure to report, requiring all adults to report known or suspected child abuse in religious and other institutions

– Offence would cover clergy, who would have to disclose any abuse admissions made during religious confession

– Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should push the Vatican to make celibacy voluntary, publish criteria for the selection of bishops, and remove time limits for actions over abuse claims

– Conference should push the Vatican for a broad overhaul of canon law, seeking specific references to sexual crimes against children

– Conference should seek to end use of “pontifical secret” so it can no longer be applied to abuse allegations

– In particular, Coag should review minimum national requirements for assessing suitability of teachers

– Youth detention centres should consider using technology, such as CCTV and body-worn cameras, to film child/staff interactions

Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart has said he does not fully support some of the 189 new recommendations delivered by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The sanctity of the religious confessional would be tossed aside and celibacy would become voluntary under the new recommendations, many of which are aimed at making children safer.

In what would be a shake-up of centuries of tradition, the recommendations called for an overhaul of confessional, with religious ministers forced to report any child sexual abuse revealed to them.

But Archbishop Hart says he does not support any changes to confession that would force a priest to report information to authorities.

“I revere the law of the land and I trust it but this is a sacred, spiritual charge before God which I must honour and I have to respect and try to do what I can do with both,” Archbishop Hart said.

Archbishop Hart cautioned against making changes to confessional, saying it was a “serious spiritual matter”.

He admitted that if someone revealed their child abuse to him in confessional, he would feel “terribly conflicted” but he would not break the seal.

“The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication, being cast out of the church, so it’s a real, serious, spiritual matter,” he said.

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher also warned against changing confessional, describing it as a “distraction”.

“I think any proposal to effectively stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians and I don’t think would help any young person,” he said.

“I think if young people are to be kept safe, focusing on something like confession is just a distraction.”

Of all the survivors who reported abuse in religious institutions, more than 60 per cent said it had happened at the hands of the Catholic Church.

The royal commission report said the Catholics had demonstrated “catastrophic failures of leadership”, particularly before the 1990s.

The report also called for the Catholic Church to make celibacy voluntary for its clergy, saying it contributed to child abuse.

While the details of much child abuse uncovered by the royal commission had been published already, today’s report is the final, most comprehensive reckoning for religious, government and other institutions put under the microscope over the past five years.

Alongside recommendations made to churches, it called for a new criminal offence to be created that would make it easier to prosecute institutions who had failed to protect children.

Among the other recommendations were the creation of a new National Office for Child Safety and a website and helpline to report child abuse.

The report estimated the number of child victims in the tens of thousands, saying their abusers were “not just a few rotten apples”.

“Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.”

The report is told over 17 volumes — its length reflecting the exhaustive process which included 57 public hearings and 8,000 private sessions. A total of 409 recommendations have been made.

About 4,000 institutions were reported to the royal commission, which heard from 1,200 witnesses over 400 days of testimony.

Chief Royal Commissioner, Justice Peter McClellan AM, handed the report to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove Friday morning.

“It’s been very tough, often harrowing work, but above all, I want to thank and honour the courage of the survivors and their families who’ve told, often for the first time, the dreadful stories of abuse that they received from people who actually owed them love and protection,” he said.

In its findings, the royal commission said all Jewish institutions in Australia should explicitly state a Jewish law, known as mesirah — which forbids a Jew from informing on another Jew — does not apply to the reporting of allegations of child sexual abuse to police.

It said the Anglican Church should adopt a uniform standards framework to ensure bishops and former bishops are accountable to an appropriate authority or body in relation to their response to complaints of child sexual abuse.

It also recommended the Jehovah’s Witness organisation scrap the two-witness rule — which requires two eye witnesses to an allegation of sexual abuse — in cases involving children.

The royal commission called for changes to current laws, which would make it easier for a defendant ‘ s criminal history to be revealed in court.

It said state and territory governments should introduce legislation to provide that good character be excluded as a mitigating factor in sentencing for child sexual abuse, with the exception of New South Wales and South Australia.

The royal commission called for state and territory governments to extend grooming laws, so that it’s not just an offence to groom a child, but it is also an offence to groom their parents or carers.

The report also urged state and territory governments to provide nationally consistent guidance to teachers and principals on how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.

It said particular emphasis should be placed on monitoring boarding schools to ensure they meet the Child Safe Standards.

It said the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) should review minimum national requirements for assessing the suitability of teachers.

The final report said it was believed that thousands of children may have been harmed by other children’s sexual behaviours in Australia each year.

“We also believe exposure to violent or harmful practices in an institutional context is a risk factor for exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours,” it said.

The report said institutions may have enabled harmful sexual behaviours by allowing a “culture of violence and intimidation to prevail” so that abuse was “normalised”.

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A royal commission argues Australia needs a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse as it warns governments and institutions they must not fail children again.

The inquiry has controversially suggested the Catholic Church consider voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses abandon a 2000-year-old rule in handling child sex abuse cases and stop shunning victims who leave the organisation.

It again called for strengthened and nationally consistent mandatory reporting laws that include people in religious ministry and no exemption when the information came from a religious confession.

It also wants abusers stripped of any honours and a national memorial to recognise the tens of thousands of children sexually abused in more than 4000 Australian institutions.

The royal commission’s 17-volume final report has more than 400 recommendations, the bulk of which have already been released, aimed at making institutions safer for children.

It also places blame on state instruments, such as the police, child protection agencies and the justice system.

The government has pledged $52.1 million to support abuse victims’ access to redress from a national scheme, along with a parliamentary committee, to be chaired by crossbench senator Derryn Hinch.

“As you go through that book… you see this repeated: ‘thank you for hearing me, thank you for believing me. The first time someone in authority has listened to me has heard my story’.”

The $500 million, five-year inquiry into how churches, charities and other organisations handled abuse of children concluded that abuse happened “in almost every type of institution where children reside or attend”.

“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused,” it says, but “we will never know the true number”.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who established the Royal Commission, expressed her thanks to the Commissioners and staff as well as survivors “who fought so hard for justice and a safer future for our children.”

On this historic day, my personal thanks go to the Royal Commissioners and all who supported their work. Our nation is indebted to you and to the survivors who fought so hard for justice and a safer future for our children. JG

The commission has given the federal, state and territory governments six months to respond to its recommendations and wants institutions to report on how they have implemented its reforms in a year’s time.

More than 8,000 survivors told their personal stories, and a further 1,000 provided written accounts.

Almost all of the survivors, more than 64 per cent of whom were male, allege they were abused by an adult male, with most saying they were in their early teens when the abuse first happened.

The majority of religious institutions where abuse is believed to have taken place were Catholic-run, where leaders often had unsupervised access to, and authority over, children.

Those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds say they often felt isolated as children, and faced discrimination from the broader society – something many perpetrators took advantage of.

The 14.3 per cent of survivors who were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background describe the combined pain of being abused and being separated from their family and culture, and of passing this trauma down to future generations.

Some recommendations have already been made and acted upon, including toughening background checks and establishing a redress scheme, which is still in progress.

Refusing compensation to survivors of child abuse who have gone on to commit serious crimes is of serious concern to advocates.

Mr Turnbull says blocking access to convicted criminals is government policy, but he understands the argument many had landed in jail because of the abuse they had suffered.

“But equally, you can understand how many people would be uncomfortable with and opposed to people who have committed serious offences then being provided compensation by government,” he told 3AW radio on Friday.

The prime minister left the door open to revisiting the prohibition as the Commonwealth tries to finalise the redress scheme.

Opposition families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin, who helped establish the commission with former prime minister Gillard, said it was now up to the Turnbull government to step up.

And she urged all states, as well as the institutions responsible, to be a part of the redress scheme.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said many of the reforms recommended were already underway in her state.

“I am pleased that a number of reforms that go to the heart of the commission’s recommendations have either already been implemented or are underway in Queensland,” she said.

While New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the state would work to ensure this situation wouldn’t be repeated.

“The royal commission heard evidence of shocking and appalling abuse perpetrated on children by the very people who were supposed to care for them. We will work to ensure that this situation cannot happen again,” she said.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will sit on 14 December to publicly mark the conclusion of the five-year long inquiry.

Royal Commission CEO, Philip Reed, said the sitting will be a chance for Commissioners to thank the community for their continued support of the Royal Commission and its work.

“When we began in 2013, we had no idea just how widespread or prevalent child sexual abuse in institutions was in Australia, or how many people would come forward to share their story,” Mr Reed said.

“Since then we have held 57 public hearings, where we sat for 444 days and heard evidence of more than 1,300 witnesses. Commissioners have also listened to the personal accounts of almost 8,000 survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions through ‘private sessions’.

“Combined with our comprehensive policy and research program, the Royal Commission has been able to contribute to the community’s understanding and awareness of institutional child sexual abuse.”

Mr Reed said that during the life of the Royal Commission, thousands of individuals, including survivors, academics, legal practitioners, government representatives and advocacy and support groups have contributed to its work.

“We couldn’t have achieved what we have so far without the input and support of so many,” Mr Reed said.

The Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM, the Chair of the Royal Commission, will present the National Library of Australia with a book of around one thousand messages written by survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

The book titled, ‘Message to Australia’ is a collation of personal messages written by those who shared their story to the Royal Commission in a private session. The messages, addressed to the Australian community, tell of survivors’ experiences and their hopes for creating a safer environment for children in the future. Once handed to the National Library, the book will be accessible to members of the public.

For those who are unable to attend, the sitting will be streamed live to the public via webcast on the Royal Commission’s website www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au

For those who are unable to attend, the sitting will be streamed live to the public via webcast on the Royal Commission’s website

The Royal Commission’s final report will be delivered to the Governor General on Friday 15 December 2017. Event: Royal Commission Final Sitting Date: Thursday 14 December Sitting times: 9.30 am AEDT (the sitting is expected to conclude by 10.00 am AEDT) Location: Hearing Room 1, Level 17, Governor Macquarie Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney

The Royal Commission’s final report will be delivered to the Governor General on Friday 15 December 2017.

THE abuse royal commission has recommended a national memorial for child sex abuse survivors and a national strategy to prevent future abuse, including appointing a federal minister for children’s issues.

The $500 million, five-year royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse handed over its final 17-volume report on Friday, having heard harrowing evidence from thousands of survivors in numerous church, sporting, government and community organisations.

“There is no simple explanation for why child sexual abuse has occurred in a multitude of institutions,” the final report says.

“However, we have identified a number of ways in which institutions may, inadvertently or otherwise, enable or create opportunities for abuse.”

This includes creating a ministerial portfolio with responsibility for children’s policy issues, and establishing a National Framework for Child Safety to provide a response to the implementation of the Child Safe Standards.

It wants the federal government to oversee the development and implementation of a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse.

Federal and state government have been asked to respond to the commission’s 189 recommendations within six months.

“Australian society must never go back to a state of denial about the nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts.”

It’s also recommended the royal commission website and reports from their work be archived within 12 months, so that the stories are not forgotten.

The royal commission, announced by then prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012, held its first public hearing in September 2013 and sat for 444 days in public.

The commission says tens of thousands of children were allegedly abused in more than 4000 institutions, but the true number would never be known.

It heard from more than 1300 witnesses in public hearings and was contacted by more than 15,000 survivors or their relatives.

Many survivors thanked the commission for finally allowing their stories to be heard. The commission has recommended that these stories and victims should not be forgotten.

“Memorials honour those who have suffered and provide opportunities to remember the past and think about the future. They provide a specific place for families and wider society to reflect on the trauma of survivors and mourn the victims lost.”

It has also recommended that institutions that have honours or dedications to known abusers remove them, and governments should strip them of any honours

Compulsory celibacy among Catholic priests contributed to child sexual abuse in Australia and local church leaders should ask the Vatican to consider introducing voluntary celibacy, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has recommended in its landmark final report.

After five years, 444 days of public hearings and 8013 private sessions, the commission delivered its 17-volume final report in Canberra on Friday and set a six-month deadline for a response from government on 189 new recommendations.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse calls for a systematic overhaul of structure and governance practices which allowed cultures of abuse to flourish.

Australian National University astronomers have created the most comprehensive map of the southern sky.

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dennis Hart says churches will support for the introduction of a redress scheme following a report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Malcolm Turnbull’s about-face on a banking royal commission has plenty of politicians criticising, justifying and gloating about the decision.

The Royal Commission’s report into sexual abuse has been handed to the government, with talk now turning to implementing recommendations and compensation for victims.

John Alexander and Kristina Keneally are on the ground in Bennelong, rounding up last minute votes with the byelection result tipped to be close.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse calls for a systematic overhaul of structure and governance practices which allowed cultures of abuse to flourish.

The $500 million commission found child sexual abuse occurred in a broad range of institutional contexts, including schools, sporting and dance clubs, defence training establishments and out-of home care services.

It recommended laws requiring mandatory reporting of abuse to child protection authorities be extended to religious ministers, out-of-home care workers, childcare workers, registered psychologists and school counsellors, bringing them into line with police, doctors, nurses and teachers.

It also recommended a new National Office for Child Safety be established within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and a minister appointed to oversee child policy issues. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday the inquiry had “exposed a national tragedy” and a national taskforce would be set up in January to act on the recommendations.

Religious institutions loomed large in the commission’s work and “the greatest number of alleged perpetrators and abused children were in Catholic institutions”, the commission found.

The final report makes a series of recommendations to the Catholic Church in Australia, including that church leaders request the Vatican “consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy”.

Justice Peter McClellan, chair of the child abuse royal commission, delivered the final report to government on Friday.

“We also recommend that Catholic religious institutes implement measures to address the risks of harm to children and the potential psychological and sexual dysfunction associated with celibacy,” the final report said.

The commission said compulsory celibacy for clergy, and vowed chastity for members of religious institutes, was “not a direct cause of child sexual abuse” but had “contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, especially when combined with other risk factors”.

“For many Catholic clergy and religious, celibacy is implicated in emotional isolation, loneliness, depression and mental illness. Compulsory celibacy may also have contributed to various forms of psychosexual dysfunction, including psychosexual immaturity, which pose an ongoing risk to the safety of children,” the report said.

The commission also recommended Australian laws be changed to force clergy to report abuse disclosed in confession, a major departure from canon law.

“In case studies and private sessions we heard that disclosures of child sexual abuse by perpetrators or victims during confession were not reported to civil authorities or otherwise acted on,” the report said.

Reiterating a recommendation made in August, the commission said a new offence should be created for failing to report child sexual abuse to police. This would cover those in religious ministry as well as owners, managers, staff members or volunteers of any institution, and extend to what a person “should have suspected” as well as what they did know or suspect.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher yesterday promised the report would not “sit on a shelf” and “we have to look very carefully and take very seriously what the commission has found in terms of more systemic issues in our culture, hierarchy, practices and beliefs as Catholics”.

But he stopped short of offering support for the commission’s key recommendations on voluntary celibacy and reporting abuse that came to light from confession.

“While we are yet to study what the commission has had to say about that [confession], I think everyone understands that this Catholic and orthodox practice of confession is always confidential,” he said in Sydney.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart agreed the confessional was sacrosanct but said celibacy reforms could be considered.

“With regard to the discipline of celibacy, this is a matter of a different order, it’s a discipline which the church can change,” he said.

The commission recommended any person in religious ministry who was the subject of a complaint of child sexual abuse be permanently removed from ministry if the complaint was substantiated “on the balance of probabilities”. Criminal convictions would also trigger dismissal from religious ministry.

The Turnbull government has introduced a bill to establish a national compensation scheme for abuse victims, a recommendation first made by the royal commission in 2015.

The commission estimated 60,000 survivors would be eligible to make a claim under the scheme and suggested payments would range between $10,000 and $200,000 for “the most severe case” of abuse. The average payment would be $65,000, the report said.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said on Friday the maximum payment of $150,000 per person would not be increased.

The scheme requires buy-in from the states and territories, and Mr Porter said he expected “most state attorneys-general and ministers responsible will be giving … some kind of indication in the next couple of days” about their position. NSW and Victoria had shown initial “positive” signs, he said.

The commission said state and territory governments should pass laws i to hold institutions such as schools, residential out-of-home care facilities and juvenile detention centres legally responsible for institutional child sexual abuse even if it was the result of a deliberate criminal act by a person linked to the institution.

The recommendation is aimed at removing impediments faced by child abuse survivors in seeking redress in court. The report noted Australian courts have been reluctant “to impose vicarious liability or a non-delegable duty on an institution” and contrasted this with developments in the law in Britain and Canada.

“In both those jurisdictions, the law has accepted that an institution will be vicariously liable for the criminal acts of its members or employees that cause harm to children, either because the act causing harm was so closely connected to an employee’s employment that it is fair and just to hold the employer liable, or because in the operation of its enterprise the employer created or significantly increased the risk of their employee causing harm,” the report said.

The chair of the royal commission, Justice Peter McClellan, warned the sexual abuse of children is not just a problem from the past, with children continuing to be abused in institutions today.

“The sexual abuse of any child is intolerable in a civilised society,” he said at the final sitting of the hearing on Thursday.

If you are troubled by this report or experiencing a personal crisis, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au

If you are troubled by this report or experiencing a personal crisis, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit

PRIESTS should not use the sanctity of the confessional to keep secret the sexual attacks on children by colleagues, a five-year inquiry into child abuse recommends today.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse says they could be required by law to report offences to church and civil authorities.

Children as young as pre-schoolers should be taught how to counter adult predators, the commission recommended.

“Laws concerning mandatory reporting to child protection authorities should not exempt persons in religious ministry from being required to report knowledge or suspicions formed, in whole or in part, on the basis of information disclosed in or in connection with a religious confession,” said one of the $500 million inquiry’s 189 recommendations.

The measure is part of a strong submission to make reporting of child abuse to authorities mandatory.

The question of compensation has not been fully responded to by the government but the Prime Minister today said $52.1 million would go to ensuring support and assistance for victims throughout the process of accessing redress.

The government will also establish a taskforce, starting next January, to consider and coordinate action on the recommendations and track the progress made by all Australian governments.

Archbishop Denis Hart of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference today said many of the recommendations will have “significant impact” on the way the Catholic Church operates.

“This is a shameful past, in which a prevailing culture of secrecy and self-protection led to unnecessary suffering for many victims and their families,” Archbishop Hart said in a statement.

“Once again I reiterate my unconditional apology for this suffering and a commitment to ensuring justice for those affected.”

Sister Ruth Durick, president of Catholic Religious Australia, said religious orders would be taking the Royal Commission report very seriously.

“We acknowledge with gratitude the courage of all those survivors who have come forward to the Royal Commission,” Sr Ruth said.

Much of the report deals with alleged abuse in Catholic institutions but covers a number of bodies linked to other denominations, including the Anglican Church, and charities.

The government has not yet officially responded to the recommendations but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today thanked the commissioners’ “tough and harrowing work”.

“But above all I want to thank and honour the courage of the survivors and their families who have told, often for the first time, the dreadful stories of abuse they’ve received from people who actually owed them love and protection,” he said.

The Royal Commission said institutions should keep records to document any identified incidents of grooming, inappropriate behaviour, including breaches of institutional codes of conduct, or child sexual abuse.

It said: “Records created by institutions should be clear, objective and thorough. They should be created at, or as close as possible to, the time the incidents occurred, and clearly show the author (whether individual or institutional) and the date created.”

The commission said the proposed National Office for Child Safety should report to parliament and develop and lead the co-ordination of the proposed National Framework for Child Safety.

There should be national co-ordination of the Child Safe Standards and collaboration with state and territory governments to lead continuous improvement of child safe initiatives.

The inquiry wants to see mandatory prevention education for parents delivered through day care, preschool, school, sport and recreational settings, and other institutional and community groups.

“The education should aim to increase knowledge of child sexual abuse and its impacts, and build skills to help reduce the risks of child sexual abuse,” said the report.

“Ministers for education, through the Council of Australian Governments, should establish a nationally consistent curriculum for online safety education in schools,” it said.

” The Office of the eSafety Commissioner should be consulted on the design of the curriculum and contribute to the development of course content and approaches to delivery online safety education for parents and other community members.”