Survivors of institutional childhood sexual abuse have gathered in Canberra to hear the Prime Minister offer an apology in parliament.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on October 22, 2018

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had recommended the Prime Minister make the apology.

“I simply say I believe you, we believe you, your country believes you,” Morrison said.

Scott Morrison to survivors: “Today, we say sorry

“Mr Speaker, today, as a nation, we confront our failure to listen, to believe, and to provide justice,” Morrison said.

“And, again, today, we say sorry.

“To the children we failed, sorry.

“To the parents whose trust was betrayed and who have struggled to pick up the pieces, sorry.

“To the whistleblowers, who we did not listen to, sorry.

“To the spouses, partners, wives, husbands, children, who have dealt with the consequences of the abuse, cover-ups and obstruction, sorry.

“To generations past and present, sorry.”

Survivors and supporters gathered to hear the apology

Support groups said victims and their families had travelled from far and wide to be in Canberra for the historic apology. Some watched from the public galleries while others crowded into the Great Hall.

“They are coming with very heavy hearts,” said Leonie Sheedy, CEO of Care Leavers Australasia Network.

“It is a wonderful thing our country’s apologising, but there is so much more work to be done.”

Morrison, who has only been Prime Minister of Australia since winning a leadership spill on 24 August, said the Australian government was working to establish a national database of data to raise standards of record-keeping on those who work with children.

The majority of incidents of sexual abuse that occurred in Australian institutions took place in religious organisations (58.1%).

Bipartisan support for Scott Morrison’s apology to child sexual abuse victims

The Prime Minister noted the apology was supported by both sides of Australian politics. “The foundations of our actions are the findings and recommendations of the royal commission, initiated by Prime Minister Gillard,” he said.

The former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who established the Royal Commission while in office, was present in the house to hear the apology.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten added to Morrison’s apology. “There are wrongs that cannot be made right. But know that today Australia says sorry.” he said.

“Australia says we believe you.

“And in years to come, people will learn of your lives.

“They will be appalled by the suffering. They will be shocked by the cruelty”.

The Royal Commission was an extensive investigation into institutional abuse. It took place over five years and uncovered scores of horrifying stories.

The commission had more than 8,000 consultations with survivors of abuse and talked to more than 1,200 witnesses. It made more than 2,500 referrals to authorities arising from the evidence it gathered.

Ultimately, the commission made 402 recommendations to address the systemic failures that allowed the abuse to occur. The federal government is working to implement 104 of these recommendations that relate to national government and is working with the states and territories on another 18.

Morrison also used the occasion to announce the establishment of a research centre into the issue and a national museum which will commemorate the survivors of sexual assault and raise awareness of the impact of such abuse.