Child sexual abuse: Hideous, shocking and vile crime.

Australia: Prime Minister announces the terms of reference for the royal commission into child sex abuse - Comment on 2013 January 11 (2)

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard said too many people have turned a blind eye to the shocking crime of child abuse, as she announced the terms of reference for the royal commission in Sydney on Friday. Read more:

The leader of Australia said today, "To those survivors of child sexual abuse today, we are able to say: We want your voices to be heard."

Extracts from an article of today follow:

 

Too many blind to 'vile crime' of child sex abuse: PM

'Hideous, shocking and vile crime'

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces the terms of reference for the royal commission into child sex abuse.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said too many people have turned a blind eye to the shocking crime of child abuse, as she announced the terms of reference for the royal commission in Sydney on Friday.

Ms Gilllard said that it is clear that too many children had been subject to sexual abuse in institutions and were not provided with a safe childhood.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard: "I believe our nation needs to have this royal commission."

Describing child abuse as a ''hideous, shocking and vile crime'', Ms Gillard said, ''I believe our nation needs to have this royal commission.''

Ms Gillard said to survivors of child sexual abuse, ''we want your voices to be heard. Even if you felt for all of your life that no one's listened to you.''

The prime minister said the Royal Commission would focus only on child sex abuse in institutional contexts.

NSW Supreme Court judge Peter McClellan will lead the royal commission on child sexual abuse.

''It will not deal with child sexual abuse in the family, it will also not deal with abuse of children which is not associated with child sexual abuse.''

Ms Gillard said the Royal Commission would provide advice and recommendations to the government ''in as timely a way as possible''.

When asked if church heads would be asked to appear before the Royal Commission, Ms Gillard said this was a question for the commission itself, before adding: ''I would be saying to the whole nation that we've all got an obligation to shine a light on what's happened in the past.''

The Royal Commission will be led by Justice Peter McClellan AM.  Justice McClellan is the Chief Judge at Common Law of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

The government has also appointed five other royal commissioners.

All commissioners will be appointed for three years and will provide an interim report within 18 months. They will meet over the phone on Monday and in person on Tuesday.

The terms of reference put an end date on the royal commission of December 31, 2015, but Ms Gillard said that could be extended.

The royal commission, first announced last November, will focus on ''systemic failures and issues'' in the response of organisations and institutions to the sexual abuse of children.

The Commissioners will be able to look at any private, public or non-government organisation that is or was in the past, involved with children. This includes government agencies, schools, sporting clubs, orphanages, foster care, and religious organisations.

Ms Roxon said: ''You can clearly see by the appointment of six commissioners that we expect that it will be a far-reaching inquiry that involves a lot of people and a lot of organisations.

''Our government’s been committed to provide the resources that are necessary.''

Ms Roxon said the commission would have ''far-reaching powers'' that could enable them to override confidentiality agreements previously made regarding settlements, or to issue immunity from prosecution.

While royal commissions do not have the power to prosecute individuals, the government will ensure allegations of sexual abuse raised by the commission can be investigated and, if proven, prosecuted.

The terms of reference will require commissioners to establish a process for the referral of cases to the police.

The terms will also give commissioners the power to set up a special "investigative unit", which will work closely with police to investigate and prosecute past abuses.

The inquiry into institutional responses to abuse will not only look at perpetrators. It will also cover those who were "complicit" - for example by moving on alleged offenders - or those who, by "averting their eyes", committed acts of omission.

It will also examine police responses.

"It's good to see that there are several commissioners, representing the police, judiciary, mental health and the legislative side.''

 

See
2012 Nov 12 - (3) – Politicians have church in sight
2012 Nov 15 – Australia: Catholic Church avoids reporting abuse
2012 Nov 24 (4) – Australia: Helpline flooded after church probe announced
2012 Nov 25 (2) – About 40 per cent of prison inmates have a background of child abuse
2012 Dec 21 –Australia: Child sex abuse Royal Commission
2012 Dec 24 (2) – The Australian Top Catholic
2013 Jan 11 (2) – Australia: Prime Minister announces the terms of reference for the royal commission into child sex abuse

 

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