First anniversary of National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
The National Apology in October 2018 followed the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse final report—the conclusion of a five year inquiry—which outlined 409 recommendations to better protect children against sexual abuse and alleviate the impact of abuse on children when it occurs.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered a speech in Parliament to commemorate the first anniversary. The Prime Minister acknowledged the suffering of victims and survivors and reported on the progress made against the Royal Commission’s recommendations.
Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services, also paid tribute to victims and survivors by unveiling a parchment inscribed with the National Apology. The parchment will be on permanent display at the Australian Parliament House as a reminder of the stories and suffering of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.
Minister Ruston announced a further $11.7 million for the National Redress Scheme which gives victims and survivors access to counselling and psychological services and monetary payments. The Scheme also facilitates a direct personal response from the institution where the abuse occurred, for victims and survivors who wish to receive one.
In response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, progress is being made on a National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse with over 350 consultations already undertaken. The Commonwealth is working with state and territory governments to ensure Working With Children Checks align with Royal Commission recommendations.
In addition The Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Act has strengthened laws against forced marriage and overseas child sexual abuse committed by Australian citizens and residents. The Act amends Commonwealth laws to use the term ‘child abuse material’ in place of ‘child pornography’—an outdated term that did not reflect the heinous criminal acts depicted in child sexual abuse materials.
An Online Safety Charter is due to be released soon, establishing the Government’s expectations, on behalf of the Australian community, for social media services, content hosts and other technology companies.
The Government is also establishing a National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse to raise awareness of the impact of abuse and increase workforce knowledge in responding to victims and survivors.
The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, released in February this year, are helping organisations, including Government entities to build child safe cultures. More information is available on the National Office for Child Safety website.
If the anniversary or this content brings up strong feelings or raises questions for you, there are many services and support groups available to assist you. Twenty-four-hour telephone assistance is available through:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- 1800 Respect – 1800 737 732
- MensLine Australia - 1300 789 978