Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday issued a formal apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
In a televised address in the House of Representatives, the lower house of Australia’s Parliament, Morrison promised that the government “will work with survivor groups to ensure their stories are recorded and the history is displayed.”
“Today, Australia confronts a trauma, an abomination, hiding in plain sight for far too long.
“A sorry that dare not ask for forgiveness, a sorry that dare not try and make sense of the incomprehensible, or think it could, a sorry that does not insult with an incredible promise, that sorry that speaks only of profound grief and loss.
“Nothing we can do now will right the wrongs inflicted on our nation’s children,’’ he said.
The five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in December 2017 made 409 recommendations on how to make institutions safer for children.
Out of the 6,875 survivors who gave evidence to the commission, 64.3 per cent were male and more than 60 per cent were abused by the Catholic Church.
More than 93 per cent said their abuser was male.
More than half the survivors told the commission that they were between the ages of 10 and 14 when they were abused.
They were abused for an average of 2.2 years.
“As a nation, we failed them, we forsook them, and that will always be our shame.
“This apology is for them, and their families, too,” Morrison said.
The royal commissioners recommended that religious ministers who have reports of abuse confided in them during confession be forced to report it to authorities, a shake-up of a tradition dating back centuries.
The government has announced a national redress scheme that will pay survivors compensation from the organisation by which they were abused.
Morrison on Monday committed to establishing a national child abuse museum and research center to “ensure the nation does not forget the untold horrors they experienced.”
Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP), joined Morrison and issued his own apology.
“Australia failed tens of thousands of children across generations and across the country.
“Our nation let you down. Today we offer you our nation’s apology, with humility, honesty, and hope for healing,” he said.