View Comments

WA radio broadcaster Eoin Cameron, who was a victim of sex abuse when a child at a Catholic Church-run school, has warned that many more victims will want to give evidence to the royal commission than the 5000 people predicted.

The popular ABC presenter said more than 500 people had approached him since he revealed publicly he had been abused by a Marist Brother at the South Australian boarding school he attended as a 12-year-old in the 1960s.

Mr Cameron said that it was vital everyone who wanted to give evidence to the royal commission, which held its first session yesterday, was able to do so after commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan warned it would be difficult to complete its "large task" by the December 2015 deadline.

"When the laundry is aired, it needs to be done properly," Mr Cameron said.

"If they have not got enough resources, give them more resources. It's too important and has been going on for too many years."

Justice McClellan said in his opening remarks in Melbourne yesterday that he expected at least 5000 people would want to appear before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse but admitted the final number could be much higher.

"The task we have is large, the issues are complex," Justice McClellan said.

"But we are now in a position to actively begin the work of gathering the stories and examining the responses of institutions."

He said the commission would use the time between now and the interim report deadline in July next year to complete as much of its work as possible.

Mr Cameron welcomed the news that people would be able to tell their stories in a public hearing or at a confidential private session.

"The biggest impediment to some people is that they've kept it secret themselves and they don't want their families to know," he said. It was "incredibly stressful" for his family when he revealed his abuse publicly, Mr Cameron said.

Francis Sullivan, from the Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council, said the commission would be embarrassing for the Church but it was imperative the truth emerged.

"We are dead keen on making sure that compensation, and appropriate compensation, is put in place," he said.

Mr Sullivan said any existing confidentiality agreements would be cancelled so victims could tell their stories.

Justice McClellan said that he expected many institutions to waive confidentiality clauses with victims but he warned that the commission had powers to overcome them if such clauses were not waived.

_The West Australian _revealed in February how Christian Brother Daniel McMahon, who died last year, abused boys at some of Perth's most prestigious private schools over decades.

One former Christian Brothers College Highgate pupil, who was abused by McMahon as a 13-year-old, said yesterday he had sought advice after reading the stories of other McMahon victims in the newspaper and now wanted to give evidence to the royal commission.

"I have carried a lot of anger about this my whole life," said the victim, who asked not to be named.

"There were guys in positions of trust who covered it up. It's inexcusable. We are talking about the life and mind of a 13-year-old boy who doesn't know what's going on and is being screwed around sexually and mentally by these so-called men of trust."