Justice Peter McClellan at the final sitting of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney,
Justice Peter McClellan at the final sitting of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney,

189 recommendations into child sex abuse

Governments have been given a six-month deadline to decide how children can be protected in the wake of the child sex abuse royal commission.

In its final report released today, the commission has recommended a new National Office for Child Safety to oversee the development and implementation of a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse.

The office would be part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

It has also said that every year for the next five years all governments should be accountable in open reports to their parliaments on how they are implementing the commission's extensive recommendations.

Commissioner Justice Peter McClellan and the Governor-General of Australia Peter Cosgrove at the signing ceremony and the release of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Canberra. Photo Jeremy Piper
Commissioner Justice Peter McClellan and the Governor-General of Australia Peter Cosgrove at the signing ceremony and the release of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Canberra. Photo Jeremy Piper

The long-awaited final report follows five years of hearings for the $500 million royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse during which more than 2500 allegations have been reported to police as over 8000 survivors of childhood abuse gave evidence covering 4000 institutions.

Federal and state government have been asked to respond to the commission's 189 recommendations within six months.

"There is no simple explanation for why child sexual abuse has occurred in a multitude of institutions," the final report says.

"However, we have identified a number of ways in which institutions may, inadvertently or otherwise, enable or create opportunities for abuse."

Members of the Care Leavers Australasia Network meet with Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove ahead of the findings.
Members of the Care Leavers Australasia Network meet with Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove ahead of the findings.

This includes setting the federal government setting up a mechanism to oversee the development and implementation of a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse to be undertaken by the proposed National Office for Child Safety and be included in a National Framework for Child Safety.

"Australia's governments and institutions are now responsible for responding to the Royal Commission's recommendations and delivering the changes that the community has rightly come to expect," the final report states.

"We have asked the Australian Government and state and territory governments to respond to our Final Report within six months of its release.

"In their response, governments should tell the community which of our recommendations they plan to act on and which they do not."

The commission said that governments, institutions and the broader community had to share responsibility for keeping children safe.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CHILD ABUSE ROYAL COMMISSION

Australia-wide laws requiring all adults to report known or suspected child abuse in religious and other institutions.

- Failure to report should be a criminal offence.

- The laws will cover clergy who fail to report abuse admissions made during religious confession.

- The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should ask the Holy See to consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy.

- A new national office for child safety, within the department of prime minister and cabinet.

- Office to evolve into a stand-alone statutory authority within 18 months. - A new federal minister responsible for mitigating risks of abuse, and working with states and territories to keep children safe.

- A new national framework for child safety by 2020.

- A new national website and helpline to report child abuse, education for children and parents, including in pre-schools, and help for adults who believe they're at risk of becoming abusers.

SYDNEY ARCHBISHOP RESPONDS TO ABUSE REPORT

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney has assured child abuse survivors the church has begun working toward meeting the recommendations made by the royal commission's final report.

Anthony Fisher has promised the multi-volume final report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which was released on Friday, would not "sit on a shelf".

"I will study the findings and recommendations carefully, and then provide a detailed response as we discern, with the rest of the community, the best way forward," he said in a statement on Friday.



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