PM: Royal Commission called


4BC Drive: Prime Minister Gillard has called for a Royal Commission into child sex abuse claims within the Catholic Church.

Gary Hardgrave gets the response from Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston and Dr Mal Washer.

News Update

Royal commission to probe child abuse

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has agreed to a royal commission into institutional responses to allegations of child abuse in Australia.

The royal commission will be recommended by Ms Gillard to the governor-general and the terms of reference would be worked on in coming weeks, before the persons to lead with inquiry are appointed.

"I want to get this right," the prime minister said.

"So over the next few weeks we will be consulting with the organisations that represent the survivors of child abuse, with religious organisations, with state and territory government to ensure the terms of reference are right."

Mr Gillard said she had already spoken to the premiers of NSW and Victoria, states which are already pursuing their own inquiries.

"Both of them are prepared to take a cooperative approach," she said.

Mr Gillard said any instance of child abuse was a vile and evil thing, she told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

"Australians know, from the revelations that they've read in recent weeks that too many children have suffered child abuse but have also seen other adults let them down.

"They've not only had their trust betrayed by the abuser but other adults who could have acted to assist them have failed to do so."


Prime Minister Julia Gillard will recommend to the Governor-General a Royal Commission be set up.

It will inquire into institutional responses to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse in Australia.

The terms of reference will be worked out in coming weeks with a view to the commission being established before the end of 2012.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and acting minister for families Brendan O'Connor will co-ordinate work on the terms of reference.

The inquiry commissioner or commissioners will be named in coming weeks.

Ms Gillard plans to speak to state and territory leaders in coming days about how the Royal Commission may relate to current or proposed inquiries in their jurisdictions.

Discussions will also be held with victims' groups, religious leaders and community organisations.

The inquiry will look at religious institutions, state institutions and schools and not-for-profit groups like scouts and sports clubs.

The government says the commission is not targeted at any one church.

It's too early to say how long it will take.


There have been 129 Royal Commissions appointed by the government of Australia since 1902.

The last, in 2008, was into equine influenza.

A Royal Commission has considerable powers, albeit restricted to its terms of reference.

It can compel witnesses, offer indemnities and seize documents.

The Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody each lasted four years.

(Source: federal government)

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