Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a Royal Commission to investigate the institutional responses to decades of child abuse in Australia. The decision comes after a fresh outcry over the weekend was sparked by Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox. The senior policeman has alleged that investigations into child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church were hindered, and in some cases compromised, by church officials.
The Royal Commission will not just focus on the church – it will address “institutional responses to child abuse”, which includes all religions, state care, not-for-profit organisations, schools, child welfare services, the police and the foster system. Ms Gillard indicated that the Commission was unlikely to be given a strict reporting date; instead it will be allowed to “go where it needs, to give us a comprehensive response”.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had earlier given his backing to a Royal Commission. He stated that “[w]herever abuse has occurred it must be tackled, and it must be tackled vigorously, openly and transparently … A lot of terrible things have been done, and a lot of people have suffered deeply”.
During the announcement Ms Gillard said “[t]he 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.”
To find out more read PM announces abuse inquiry at The Age website.
It’s about time Australia carried out an official inquiry into the atrocity that is child sexual abuse. Reading firsthand stories from victims and advocates was one of the most heart-wrenching yet strangely uplifting experiences I’ve had. Heart-wrenching for the pain they suffered, often alone and in silence, and uplifting in their joy at finally being heard.
Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were victims of abuse, said she was blown away. “Justice has been denied so far. We’ve been telling our story for 16 years. It goes out there, and nothing happens.” She said that the Royal Commission is “exactly what we need”.
Reading the stories reminded me all over again how important it is that we protect the children in our communities. We teach them to trust us, the adults, so it’s important that we make ourselves worthy of that trust by not dismissing the signs that something might be wrong, even when it might be easier to ignore the problem. Whether it’s the children in your family, your step family or your local neighbourhood, they are our future, and it is our responsibility to help ensure this sort of evil never touches their lives.
Did the Government do the right thing by instigating this Royal Commission? And do you think parents should be solely responsible for the welfare of their own children, or does the saying ‘it takes a village’ still apply?