Royal commission into child sex abuse makes 189 new recommendations

Published: 15 December 2017


A five-year inquiry into child sex abuse within Australian institutions has today released its final report and made a total of 406 recommendations, 189 of them new.

The 17-volume document details the experiences of tens of thousands of child victims and concludes the problem is systemic, “not a case of a few rotten apples”.

“It is now apparent that across many decades, many of society’s institutions failed our children. Our child protection and criminal and civil justice systems let them down,” the report finds.

The Royal Commission heard the personal stories of more than 8,000 survivors in private sessions and read a further 1,000 written accounts of abuse.

Of the survivors, 63.6 percent were male, and the average age of a victim when first abused was 10-years-old.

Among its recommendations, the report called for the Catholic Church to make celibacy voluntary for its priests, and said mandatory celibacy contributed to child abuse.

The report also stated there should be “no excuse, protection nor privilege” for priests who conceal information obtained during the sacrament of confession.

Recommended changes to the criminal justice system would mean clergy who fail to report information about child sexual abuse heard during confession would face criminal charges.

But despite the report’s findings, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Dennis Hart has cautioned against discarding the sanctity of confessional.

He admitted that if someone were to reveal an act of child abuse to him in confessional, he would “feel terribly conflicted”, however he would not break the seal.

The report stated the greatest number of alleged perpetrators and abused children were in Catholic institutions.

Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed said Australia’s future is now in the hands of the country’s government and institutions.

"We have now completed our work. It's up to governments and institutions to take the next steps and implement the Royal Commission's recommendations." Mr Reed stated.

In response to the final report, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government would set up a task force in January to act on recommendations.