Following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has delivered a formal apology to survivors of child sexual abuse and their families, supporters and advocates.
On October 22, Mr Morrison acknowledged and apologised for the abuse children endured in our trusted institutions: by men of God, by people in power, and by people with a duty of care to protect children.
He said the apology confronted our failure to listen, to believe and to provide justice.
"To the children we failed, sorry. To the parents whose trust was betrayed and who have struggled to pick up the pieces, sorry. To the whistleblowers who we did not listen to, sorry. To the spouses, partners, wives, husbands, children who have dealt with the consequences of the abuse, cover-ups and obstruction, sorry. To generations past and present, sorry."
The apology was witnessed by victims and their families, and streamed live to emotional scenes that saw politicians, as well as the victims, break down.
The national apology reminds us that institutions can be both the architects of unspeakable evil, and also the agents of healing and change.
While the apology was an important moment in Australian history, it will be the actions to safeguard children from abuse that matters most.
The royal commission made 409 recommendations to prevent, identify and respond to child sexual abuse. Those recommendations have prompted:
- sweeping reforms of the Catholic Church and other religious institutions
- the creation of the National Redress Scheme for survivors, and
- the establishment of the National Office of Child Safety.
The progress is encouraging, but more can and should be done to safeguard children. The findings highlight that organisations must be vigilant, and that prevention is key when there is no cure.
What organisations should do
Creating a child safe culture involves more than having well-drafted policies and procedures in place. It's about creating a culture where all staff, volunteers and board members take responsibility for promoting and ensuring child safety. It also requires empowering children - when children are empowered, they are more likely to report concerns.
As part of its commitment to eradicating child abuse, Moores has published the Child Safety Toolkit with Our Community. The free resource promotes child safety and helps ensure compliance with the legislation by providing practical advice to help organisations across Australia meet their child safety obligations.