Tas premier says sorry to abuse survivors

Tasmania's premier has formally apologised to victim-survivors of institutionalised child sexual abuse, acknowledging failures of past and present governments.

The apology follows harrowing evidence heard at a commission of inquiry examining abuse in the state's health, education, justice and out-of-home care systems.

"The Tasmanian government ... and parliament unreservedly apologises to all victim-survivors of child sexual abuse in Tasmanian government institutions," Premier Jeremy Rockliff told state parliament on Tuesday.

"We failed you. We are all accountable and we are sorry.

"Our institutions have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children. (We) have clearly failed in that responsibility."

Survivors, including former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, were in parliament's public gallery for the apology. It was also broadcast online and on the lawns outside the building.

Ms Tame, who was abused as a teenager by a teacher at her high school, urged the government to back up their words with reform, including tackling systemic issues and providing greater education about grooming.

"Acknowledging the past is important and moving forward is important and response measures are important. For me personally ... prevention is the key," she said.

Labor leader Rebecca White, Greens leader Cassy O'Connor and several independents also apologised.

The inquiry, which was called in late 2020, has investigated "catastrophic" failings at the Launceston General Hospital where pedophile nurse James Geoffrey Griffin worked for nearly two decades.

Griffin took his own life in October 2019 after being charged with multiple child sexual abuse offences.

The inquiry has also examined the Ashley Youth Detention Centre, which has operated for more than 20 years. The centre was described at hearings as a "monster" with a culture of brutality.

The commission concluded public hearings in September and is expected to deliver a final report by May.

"Over the past eight months ... we have heard about a very dark chapter in Tasmania's history. It is a chapter no one should forget," Mr Rockliff said.

"We give a solemn undertaking to all Tasmanians to never allow a repeat of this abuse, secrecy and suppression."

Mr Rockliff extended the apology to the family, friends and partners of survivors, those who had not come forward and victims who had died.

"(We) apologise for the pain suffering and trauma they have endured through previous actions and inactions of those in authority," he said.

The state government has pledged to close Ashley by the end of 2024 and set up alternatives, insisting there are no better options for current detainees.

There have been calls, including from the state and national children's commissioners and human rights groups, for the centre to be closed immediately.

The government has committed to implementing all recommendations from the commission's final report and is undertaking sweeping child safety reforms.

Katrina Munting, who gave evidence at the inquiry about being abused by her teacher in the 1990s, said she was "emotionally decimated" after the apology.

"Survivors won't take this as enough. We won't truly feel the power of that apology unless it is followed with actions," she said.

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