Australian institutions seriously failed to act as tens of thousands of children were sexually abused there over decades in the most heinous way, a five-year inquiry report said, calling it a national tragedy.
The damning final report released on Friday came after a six-member Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was appointed in 2012 to inquire into institutional responses to widespread allegations of child abuse.
While the actual number of the survivors may never be known, the abuse occurred in almost every place where children lived or attended — churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools, the report said.
After hearing horrific stories of abuse from over 15,000 survivors, the commission found that more 4,000 institutions — many of them run by Catholic groups — seriously failed in protecting them from the perpetrators.
It was not a case of a few rotten apples. Some institutions had multiple abusers who sexually abused multiple children. Although 7% of Catholic priests were accused of abuse in Australia between 1950 and 2010, their cases were never investigated, the report said.
Children’s complaints were always ignored and they were punished if they protested.
More than 2,500 referrals have been made to police and 230 prosecutions under way.
The report made over 400 recommendations to protect children from paedophiles.
The following are some of the recommendations:
* Formulate a nationally implemented strategy to prevent child sex abuse
* Create a national office for child safety
* Make it mandatory for religious ministers to report abuse confided to them during confession.
* Arrange preventative training for children in schools and early childhood centres
The proposals will now be reviewed by legislators.