The Prime Minister of Australia will deliver a national apology to victims of institutional child sex abuse on October 22nd, which marks the commencement of National Child Week. The Prime Minister says the government has accepted 104 of the 122 recommendations from the child sex abuse royal commission.
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged to deliver a national apology to the survivors, victims and families of institutional child sexual abuse and said his government has so far accepted 104 of the 122 recommendations made by the royal commission.
The prime minister made the announcement in Canberra on Wednesday 13th of June 2018, with the deadline for the government to respond to the royal commission’s findings set for June 30. The remaining 18 recommendations from the royal commission are still under consideration, he said.
Prime Minister Mr Malcolm Turnbull will deliver the national apology on 22 October to coincide with national children’s week.
The government will also create a national office for child safety commencing on 1 July, which was a key recommendation from the royal commission. A commonwealth child safety framework was being developed, and child safety checks would also be nationalised, Turnbull said.
There were 409 recommendations made by the commission when it delivered its findings in December, with 122 of those directly or partly involving the federal government.
“It’s been harrowing work,” Turnbull said. “And the compassion and the respect shown by the royal commissioners and their staff for this process has set us on a pathway to real change. Now that we’ve uncovered the shocking truth, we must do everything in our power to honour the bravery of the thousands of people who came forward.”
A national prevalence study will also be conducted through the national office for child safety to better understand the scale of child sexual abuse. A task force has also been established to track the progress made by the federal, state and territory governments in meeting the royal commission’s recommendations. The task force will remain in place until 2020 and will report annually in December until 2022 with a commitment to conduct a 10-year review in 2027.
Of the commission’s recommendations, 84 related to a redress scheme for survivors and how it should be implemented. The social services minister, Dan Tehan, said on Wednesday now that all state and territory governments had signed up to the scheme, along with the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches, 93% of survivors were covered.
“The legislation is through the house of House of Representatives. It will go through the Senate in the coming fortnight and our hope is Senate passage willing, we will have the national redress scheme up and running as of 1 July,” Tehan said.
The scheme caps payments at $150,000, though the commission recommended a cap of $200,000. A Senate inquiry is currently reviewing the proposed legislation.
“Redress is not compensation, however, it does acknowledge the hurt and harm survivors suffered, and it will ensure institutions take responsibility for the abuse that occurred on their watch by the people that worked for them,” Turnbull said.
“The royal commission has made very clear that we all have a role to play to keep our children safe. Governments, schools, sporting clubs, churches, charitable institutions and, of course, all of us. We all have a vested interest in the safety of other people’s children, not just our own. We owe it to them to ensure that they are protected.”
The royal commission also made a number of recommendations that would involve the Vatican. These included that the Australian Catholic Church should request permission from the Vatican to introduce voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy, and that the candidates for religious ministry should undergo external psychological testing, including psychosexual assessment, to determine their suitability to be in the ministry and to undertake work involving children.
The commission also recommended that child abuse disclosed during Catholic confession should be reported to police.