A child abuse campaigner has urged Australian governments to follow the ACT's proposed mandatory disclosure scheme, saying it would have saved children like him from being molested at the hands of a Marist brother decades ago.
Damian De Marco, named ACT Local Hero of the Year for his campaigning, is set to speak at a NSW Ombudsman's conference in Sydney on Friday, where he will praise the ACT's "courageous" plans to prevent institutional child sexual abuse and urge other states and territories to follow suit.
That scheme would see organisations with responsibility for children legally required to report any allegations of abuse or neglect to a new independent statutory authority, which would then handle complaints, denying institutions the chance to deal with them internally.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr confirmed on Thursday that he would seek to raise the issue of a consistent, strong national approach to reportable conduct at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting.
"Our children deserve to be protected wherever they live. Some jurisdictions, such as NSW, already have similar measures in place," Mr Barr said.
"A nationally consistent approach would ensure the best protection of children no matter where they live."
Mr De Marco was abused as a child by Brother Kostka, also known as John William Chute, at Marist College in Canberra.
He said the scheme, if working properly, would have prevented many children from enduring the kind of abuse that he suffered as a boy.
"It's highly probable this would have prevented a hell of a lot, if not the vast majority of abuse that happened around Australia and institutions in the last 50 years," he said.
"This scheme picks up indications that something's wrong, not just abuse."
"It means that the institutions cannot do their own investigations, that investigation will be assured to be done properly."
Mr De Marco is also expected to slam the Vatican for ignoring his request that an oath sworn by new cardinals - effectively to keep secrets to protect the reputation of the church - be changed in the wake of the Catholic child sexual abuse and cover-up scandals seen across the globe.
That request, made by letter to the Pope in October, urged the Catholic church to place the protection of children above safeguarding its own reputation, noting that the code of silence allowed decades of abuse to continue within the Catholic church unaddressed.
Mr De Marco has never received a reply.
"The lack of response from the Vatican is a reflection of clericalism still at work," he said.
"There's this arrogance of 'we won't even bother responding to your request', even though there are so many Catholics who have seen that letter I wrote and said it's clearly inappropriate to have something like that in an oath when an organisation has repeatedly and consistently concealed information."
Mr De Marco will be a panelist at the NSW Ombudsman's Reportable Conduct Forum on Friday, where he will raise issues of the oath and the ACT and NSW disclosure schemes.