The Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM, Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, addressed the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science Seminar at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne on Tuesday 14 November 2017.
In his remarks, Justice McClellan said, inter alia,
The sexual abuse of children has occurred in almost every type of institution where children reside or attend for some educational, recreational, sporting, religious or cultural activity. Some institutions have had multiple abusers who sexually abused multiple children. It is not a case of a few ‘rotten apples’. Society’s major institutions have seriously failed. In many cases those failings have been exacerbated by a manifestly inadequate response to the abused person. The problems have been so widespread, and the nature of the abuse so heinous, that it is difficult to comprehend.
The sexual abuse of a child is a terrible crime. It is the greatest of personal violations. It is perpetrated against the most vulnerable in our community. It is a fundamental breach of the trust which children are entitled to place in adults. It is one of the most traumatic and potentially damaging experiences a child could have.
Police forces failed in their duty to protect Australian children because they often refused to believe their complaints about sexual abuse. Child protection agencies also failed to listen to children, leaving them in situations of danger, Justice Peter McClellan said in some of his final remarks before the commission’s final sitting.