News

Child abuse probe will 'take as long as it takes' says PM

A ROYAL Commission to investigate child sexual abuse in Australian institutions has been welcomed as a long overdue initiative to tackle the secret crime.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the Commission on Monday, while the specific terms of reference for the inquiry would be completed before the end of the year.

Amid much speculation the inquiry could run for up to a decade, Ms Gillard said it would run for "as long as it takes".

Adults Surviving Child Abuse president, Dr Cathy Kezelman, said the Royal Commission was long overdue.

"We've been calling for an inquiry into child sexual abuse for many years," she said.

"It's especially important this inquiry look at the institutions where these crimes happen, including those institutions accepting such crimes.

"It's a very secret crime and often there are no witnesses - it affects young children profoundly and is often still hurting them as adults."

Dr Kezelman said the stigma associated with sexual abuse and the fear instilled in victims was so strong; she believed the reported levels were much lower than the real figure in the community.

"It is a most pervasive crime, and the Catholic Church especially does have a very poor record when it comes to dealing with these issues from an institutional perspective," she said.

"Basically, they've accepted and moved around perpetrators and most of those have never been brought to justice - and there's 40 suicides in Ballarat that are testament to that."

The only comparable Royal Commission on the issue in a Western nation was conducted in Ireland and took nine years to complete.

Dr Kezelman said the commission should look to report in about two years, even if it was an interim report for immediate action before a fuller report in the future.

She said irrespective of any compensation offered to victims, nothing could compensate for the lifetime affliction childhood sexual abuse causes.

She said what she would like to see was a complete, comprehensive investigation, as well as a far-reaching apology to all victims.

While Dr Kezelman highlighted the Catholic Church, the Pope's top representative in Australia, Cardinal George Pell, said it was time to separate the "fact from fiction".

Cardinal Pell said the church was not interested in denying the extent of wrong-doing within the organisation, but the Church had also been a victim of a media campaign against it.

He said various procedural changes had been made to the church's internal response to claims of sexual abuse since the 1997 Wood Royal Commission.

"I don't think we should be scapegoated - we'll answer to what we've done.

"We're not trying to defend the indefensible; but right across the board, we'll see what we'll see," he said.

"We've been unable to convince public opinion we've been serious about this."

Cardinal Pell broadly welcomed the inquiry, stressing it should not focus singularly on the Catholic Church, but all institutions where child abuse was recognised.

The government will consult with the public, as well as church and community leaders, victims and support groups, likely early next year.

To keep up to date on the commission, call the national call centre on: 1800 099 340.

Alternatively, email: royalcommissionsecretariat@pmc.gov.au

Topics:  australia, child abuse, julia gillard, royal commission, sexual abuse




Two Ipswich women charged over Adelaide murder

A photo of Robert Whitwell, released by South Australia Police.

South Australia to seek extradition

Men in custody after police swarm house, find missing baby

Police believe the baby girl may be with a 16-year-old and 19-year-old in a green 1995 Mazda 121 with Queensland registration 045GOS, and could be heading to Toowoomba.

The two men and baby girl could be heading to Toowoomba

Latest deals and offers

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

Gina Rodriguez relished dramatic change for new film

Jane the Virgin lead Gina Rodriguez

TV star shaved her hair for movie role

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa