Betrayal of Trust

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The final report of the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations was tabled in the Victorian Parliament on 13 November.

The report, titled “Betrayal of Trust”, makes 15 key recommendations in relation to reforming criminal laws, avenues for justice, organisation’s responses to allegations of abuse and prevention.

The Uniting Church, alongside the Anglican Church, was cited in the report as having established processes which demonstrate a willingness to continue improving protocols involving abuse.

The report’s recom-mendations include the establishment of a privately-funded body designed to assist victims seek help and ensuring religious and other non-government organisations incorporate legal structures.

“This has been a significant and historic inquiry for the state of Victoria, and I am proud to table our final report on behalf of the committee. We have called our report Betrayal of Trust—the reasons are clear,” Inquiry chairwoman Georgie Crozier said.

“Children were betrayed by trusted figures in organisations of high standing and suffered unimaginable harm. Parents of these children experienced a betrayal beyond comprehension, and the community was betrayed by the failure of organisations to protect children in their care.”

Victims of abuse and others in the public gallery applauded as committee members gave final report tabling speeches.

“Our recommendations are intended to provide an umbrella of protections from the consequences of the heinous crime of child abuse that people in positions of authority have facilitated either through their actions or their inaction,” Ms Crozier said.

“While we acknowledge we cannot repair the irreparable damage that has beset so many, our recommendations are designed to create an easier path for victims in their pursuit of justice.”

The committee noted that while the report represents a significant step, offending religious and secular organisations must commit to implement the committee’s recommendations and embrace a cultural change that ensures systemic child abuse never occurs again.

“I believe our inquiry marks the beginning,” Ms Crozier said.

“We have not only listened but we have heard. This is our report. I trust it gives the community an opportunity to set a new benchmark for the future protection of Victoria’s children.”

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will hold private sessions in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane from 9 and 16 December. These sessions allow those affected by child sexual abuse in an institution, to share their story, confidentially, with a Commissioner.

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