The government has been praised for introducing a powerful new scheme to prevent the cover up of institutional child abuse, and for moving to scrap time limits preventing survivors from suing.
Two major reforms on historical child abuse came before the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
Parliament unanimously passed a strong reportable conduct scheme, which will legally compel institutions like schools to report allegations of child abuse, grooming, or other suspicious behaviour to the ACT Ombudsman.
The ombudsman will then monitor the institution's response and scrutinise internal investigations.
The scheme, modelled on a much-lauded NSW system, is designed to ensure allegations of abuse are properly dealt with, and that offenders are not moved around. It will enable information about allegations and suspicious behaviour to be better shared.
The reform comes after overwhelming evidence in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which demonstrated abuse had been systematically and repeatedly covered-up by a range of institutions, allowing paedophiles to continue to access children.
Child abuse campaigner Damian De Marco was instrumental in lobbying for the reportable conduct scheme in the ACT, and was thanked by Chief Minister Andrew Barr in parliament on Tuesday.
He has described the scheme as "life-saving" and says it will prevent abuse claims from being swept under the carpet.
"It's a beautiful scheme because it teaches people what reportable conduct is, what's acceptable and what's not, and how they should deal with these allegations," Mr De Marco said, after the bill was passed on Tuesday.
"So often small, private organisations say 'oh no, this allegation has been made. What do I do?'," he said.
"Now, the people who run the scheme are actually there to explain 'this is what you do, this is how you run an investigation'."
A second piece of legislation designed to scrap time limits on suing institutions for child abuse was also introduced to parliament on Tuesday.
It follows a recommendation of the royal commission that child abuse claims be exempted from the statute of limitations.
Such time limits can be a significant barrier to survivors of child abuse, who suffer high degrees of trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression, and often are unable to cope with the horrors of their childhood until well into adulthood.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell's legislation has wide support and is expected to be passed within the next two weeks.
Porters Lawyers principal Jason Parkinson, who has dealt with roughly 1000 child abuse claims, praised the ACT government for its action.
Mr Parkinson said he had been asking the government for such a reform since 2008.
"I saw [Mr Corbell] in 2008 over this, and he was very receptive, but believed that these were matters for the court," he said.
"It's good to see that the government has now strengthened its view."
Mr Parkinson said that statute of limitations were obviously fair in most civil claims, including, for example, a personal injury claim.
But he said politicians simply had never considered that "child sexual abuse occurred on such a massive scale within our country".
"The psychiatric injury that a child is given on the first occasion they're sexually abused means that they are incapable with dealing with it as a child," he said.
"By the time they turn 18, they're usually in the grips of the symptoms, which include alcohol and drug abuse.
"Then, during that six year window, they're generally suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, it's only until they're at least 45 to 55 that the symptoms abate to the point that the victim is able to deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder themselves, and seeks help."