Last child abuse public hearing to ask why institutions failed

royal commission

Photo: Jeremy Piper

The question of why incidents of child sexual abuse have been reported from 4000 institutions, and what effect this had on the survivors, will be the focus of the last week of public hearings by a royal commission this week.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is holding its 57th case study titled “Nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse” over the next week in Sydney.

The commission will hear from an impressive list of experts, including a number from overseas, plus some survivors.

“It is remarkable that failures have occurred in so many institutions,” Justice McClellan said introducing the hearing on Monday.

“It is now apparent that many of the characteristics of failure within institutions are common, although there are sometimes significant individual characteristics.”

The institution types most commonly reported to the Royal Commission have managed by religious organisations.

These institutions accounted for 60 per cent of all reports by survivors in private sessions.

Survivors reported over 1500 institutions managed by religious organisations, which was equivalent to just over half, 53 per cent of all institutions named in private sessions.

Justice McClellan said it was vital that governments, institutions and the general public worked to provide redress for the survivors of abuse and made every effort to make sure children were kept safe in the future.

Senior counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness SC told the hearing that the majority of abusers had been men and that clergy were roughly a third of those reported.

She noted the devastating effect that abuse has on survivors throughout their lives.

“For some, the impact of the abuse and the institution’s response to it last for their whole lives,” Ms Furness said.

Although this is the last of the public hearings, the commission is still set to hear from 2000 people in private sessions to add to the more than 6500 who have already privately appeared.

The commission, which has visited all capital cities and sat for 400 days to hear from over 1200 witnesses will finish its five-year duration when it hands over a final report in December.

To watch the live proceeding of the commission or get more information click here.




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