Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has this month made a statement regarding the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Royal Commission delivered its final report to the Governor-General on 15 December 2017.
The report’s 409 recommendations propose significant reforms to ensure the children in the care of any Australian institution are protected.
“There is no more important obligation for every Australian adult than keeping our children safe from harm,” Turnbull said.
“Reading some of the witness statements, it’s clear that being heard and being believed means so much to the survivors, so much more than many of us would imagine.”
Over the course of the Royal Commission, more than 16,000 individuals made contact with the Commission, and the Commission has heard more than 8000 personal stories.
More than 1000 survivors provided a written account.
These were not isolated or only historic cases, he said.
More than 4000 individual institutions were reported as places where abuse has taken place. The youngest victim the Royal Commission interviewed was seven years of age. He had recently been abused. Some of the victims are currently still at school.
More than half of the survivors were aged between 10 and 14 years when they were sexually abused. Victims often do not disclose sexual abuse until many years later, and survivors in the private sessions took on average about 24 years to tell somebody about their abuse.
“Now that those stories have been told, now that they are on the record, we must do everything within our power to honour those stories and to act,” Turnbull said.
“I am committed and my Government is committed, to doing everything possible to make sure that this national tragedy is never repeated.
“I urge all Australian governments and the non-government sector – churches, charities, other institutions – to respond to the report by June, as was recommended by the Royal Commission.”
The Government has developed the National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations.
These ten principles aim to provide the basis for a culture of child safety in all places providing services to or care for children.
“We’re leading the development of nationally-consistent standards for screening and last year the former Attorney-General wrote to states and territories, offering to fund the creation of a national database to enable these checks to occur. These changes will ensure that only the most trusted people will be allowed to have children in their care,” Turnbull added.
The Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse will commence on 1 July, and is another recommendation adopted by the Government.
“I look forward, as I’m sure do all honourable members, to doing justice to their hard work and to the survivors by ensuring that, together, we take the steps needed to keep our children safe.”