The West

The Catholic Church will be unable to hide behind court rulings that it is not a legal entity to block child sex abuse victims from suing for compensation.

A discussion paper released by the Federal Government on the proposed royal commission into child sexual abuse confirms it intends a very broad inquiry into thousands of victims and hundreds of organisations.

The Government has looked at stopping the Catholic Church relying on past court judgments to quarantine itself from civil prosecution.

"The commission's findings and recommendations may extend to . . . ensuring that there are no obstacles to the making of claims and that there is sufficient support for victims of abuse in pursuing those claims," the discussion paper said.

In 2007, the NSW Court of Appeal ruled the Church was not a legal entity that could be sued, quashing one victim's bid for compensation.

The discussion paper also put the States on notice that it will expect them to open their archives and hand over documents "so that no individual, institution or organisation can avoid scrutiny".

The Government has given the public one week to comment on the paper.

Premier Colin Barnett said yesterday he feared the royal commission could destroy lives and institutions across the country.

In an interview on ABC radio, Mr Barnett said he was worried by the "wide brief".

Shadow child protection minister Sue Ellery said the comments were insensitive to victims of child abuse and called on Mr Barnett to apologise.

The West Australian

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