Vic priests may be forced to report abuse

Kaitlyn Offer and Callum Godde

Priests could face criminal charges if they fail to report child sexual abuse claims made during confession in Victoria, under changes being considered by the state government.

The Labor government on Wednesday released its response to the national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, accepting in full or in principle 293 of the 409 recommendations.

"The Victorian government accepts in principle the key recommendation that laws concerning mandatory reporting to child protection authorities should be expanded, including to people in religious ministries," it said.

"(It) will give further consideration to the key recommendation that mandatory reporting laws should not exempt people in religious ministry from being required to report information disclosed in a religious confession."

Since 2017, organisations with a high level of responsibility for children must report suspicions of child abuse to the Commissioner for Children and Young People.

"We have delivered a number of recommendations from the royal commission ... to make sure that survivors of institutional child sexual abuse receive the recognition, respect and support they deserve," Attorney-General Martin Pakula said in a statement.

"Victoria was one of the first states to sign up to the National Redress Scheme and we will continue to work with the Commonwealth, states and territories to progress recommendations that require national action."

Abolishing the seal of confessional for child sexual abuse is one of 24 recommendations still under the microscope, Mr Pakula said.

"It needs a degree of national agreement," he told ABC radio.

"There are a range of jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, who need to work together on this ... because the Uniform Evidence Act provision it's just not something that we can move on alone."

Victoria has quashed a legal loophole preventing survivors from suing some organisations for their abuse, abolished civil claim time limits and introduced child information sharing legislation.

Victoria and NSW were the first states in Australia to opt into the National Redress Scheme earlier this year, which started on July 1, allowing survivors to seek compensation.

Mr Pakula said the state's recent record demonstrated a willingness to hold the Catholic church and other religious groups to account.

"The Victorian government has been the first adopter on a vast majority of these recommendations, many of which will cost the Catholic Church a great deal of money and other institutions as well," he said.

"It's absolutely appropriate, given the experience of victim-survivors, that our contribution of redress scheme and the contribution of religious organisations ought to be significant."

The state says it will continue working with the federal and other state and territory governments on more than 50 recommendations that require national action.