Abuse probe needs more time

Call for justice: Protesters at a Perth hearing of the royal commission. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

A royal commission has uncovered child sexual abuse of such a scale that it needs two more years to deliver justice for victims.

In its interim report, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reveals allegations of abuse have been made against more than 1000 institutions, ranging from long-day childcare centres to religious orders.

It warns that without being able to report in December 2017, the stories of thousands of victims will go untold. The commission, launched by then prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012, has found that "institutions and adults have systematically failed to protect children".

Though its final recommendations may be some years away, the commission has expressed some support for a national agency to screen people who work with children as there are inconsistencies between the States.

But some jurisdictions have resisted such an agency, arguing it may not be achievable or appropriate.

The commission's work has seen 160 separate allegations referred to police and many more are likely.

Through 1677 private sessions and 1632 written accounts, the commission has found that 90 per cent of perpetrators have been male.

On average, female victims were nine and males 10 when abuse started.

It took on average 22 years for victims to reveal they had been abused, with male victims taking longer than females.

Among other preliminary findings the commission noted:

· Sexual abuse often occurs with physical and psychological abuse.

· Repeated abuse and multiple perpetrators are common.

· Indigenous, disabled and child inmates are most at risk of abuse.

The commission notes WA and South Australia do not require the screening of all adults in a household that is used for out-of-home care.

The commission believes that by the end of this year it will have held about 40 of the 70 hearings it has identified as necessary.

Without the extension of time it will not be able to look at all the types of institutions against which allegations of abuse have been made. The commission said education and training was necessary in institutions to ensure managers could identify perpetrators who may be grooming children.

The Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive Francis Sullivan said the commission should be given the time and money to finish its work

"To not finish the job properly and completely would be an insult to all the victims of abuse and one of the greatest lost opportunities of our generation," he said.

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