The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has announced a Royal Commission into child abuse in Australia.
- Listen to Gillard’s press conference announcement (23m)
Gillard said she had consulted with the premiers of Victoria and NSW, both of whom had agreed to co-operate on developing the terms of reference for the Royal Commission. She said she hoped the terms of reference and an announcement of the commissioners could be finalised by Christmas.
The Prime Minister made it clear this would not be an inquiry into the Catholic Church alone but into government and private institutions around Australia, including schools, welfare agencies, sporting organisations and suchlike.
Gillard said she has spoken to the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, about the inquiry.
Gillard said the time to be taken by the Royal Commission is “not knowable”. She said it would be foolish to stipulate the number of “days, months or years”.
The Prime Minister said there has been a systemic failure in the response to child abuse that required a national solution.
Press release from the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
Establishment of Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse
Today I have announced that I will be recommending to the Governor-General the establishment of a Royal Commission into institutional responses to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse in Australia.
The allegations that have come to light recently about child sexual abuse have been heartbreaking.
These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject.
The individuals concerned deserve the most thorough of investigations into the wrongs that have been committed against them.
They deserve to have their voices heard and their claims investigated.
I believe a Royal Commission is the best way to do this.
The proposed terms of reference and proposed Commissioner will be submitted to the Governor-General in due course, pursuant to the Royal Commissions Act 1902.
I will speak with relevant Premiers and Chief Ministers in coming days to discuss how the Royal Commission should relate to any current inquiries into similar matters currently proposed or underway in their jurisdictions. Discussions will also take place with victims’ groups, religious leaders, and community organisations.
The Attorney-General and the Minister for Families will co-ordinate this work on behalf of the Government in coming weeks.
Further announcements, including the proposed Commissioner and detailed terms of reference, will be made in coming weeks.
I commend the victims involved for having the courage to speak out.
I believe we must do everything we can to make sure that what has happened in the past is never allowed to happen again.