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

Do you believe the Royal Commission will protect future children from abuse?

This poll ended on 13 December 2012.

Yes - 49%

No - 50%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

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




Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

CMC Rocks to return to Ipswich in 2017

Chase Rice and his band perform for fans at CMC Rocks at Willowbank. Photo: Inga Williams / The Queensland Times

CMC Rocks bring their 10th anniversary show back to Willowbank.

Knights need a ruthless finish

Ipswich Knights coach Stewart Drinkeld

Ipswich team out of FFA Cup competition

Ipswich women’s team to get better with Heal-ly good talent

Ipswich Force rercruit Ashleigh Heal prepares to shoot in Saturday night’s QBL opener at Booval.

Olympian's daughters add strength to Force line-up

Latest deals and offers

James Legan on thrilling Force win

James Legan.

Ipswich Force captain James Legan shares his excitement with David Lems after a...

Bree Farley looks ahead

Queensland Basketball League match Ipswich Force v Toowoomba. Bree Farley. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times

Ipswich Force and national league player Bree Farley chats to David Lems about the...

Man thanks colleagues for saving his life after forklift incident

Bruce O'Grady returned to his Wulkuraka workplace on Thursday to thank his workmates that saved his life after a workplace accident in January. (clockwise from left) Trent Court, Chris Aiken, Dale Ward and Scott Blackwell.

Ipswich paramedics have praised the workplace health and safety focus of a local...

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances