PM announces Royal Commission
Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces a Royal Commission to investigate decades of child abuse in churches, schools and foster homes.PT0M25S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29880 620 349 November 12, 2012
THIS journalist has used up a few dead trees in criticising politicians for tardy and inadequate responses to clergy sex abuse of children. So it is with real pleasure that I and surely most Australians congratulate Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her cabinet for calling a royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who some cruelly claim takes his orders directly from Cardinal George Pell, also deserves credit for offering the bipartisan support needed to smooth its path.
The details, including the terms of reference, have yet to emerge, but Gillard's announcement of the scope it will cover - all religions, state care, not-for-profit organisations, schools, child welfare agencies and police - is encouraging.
It's also encouraging that the PM suggested the inquiry would take as long as it needed. In Ireland the process took nine years but was deeply cathartic. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission had a similar role.
The argument by Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, at the weekend that the Catholic Church was no worse than other organisations, and that calls were motivated by anti-Catholic prejudice, was clearly self-serving, and it is appropriate that it fell on deaf ears.
As the Victorian inquiry has been told, nine out of 10 cases of clergy sexual abuse involve Catholic priests or brothers. But victims of sexual abuse in other institutions, whether state orphanages or Jewish schools, must also have the opportunity to tell their stories.
This is what victims, their supporters, most of the Catholic faithful and the wider community have been seeking. Bring it on!