vrijdag, juni 13, 2014

Thursday 12 June 2014

Thank you for inviting me to address your symposium today.
This is an important gathering which brings together many people with significant understandings of the issues under consideration by the Royal Commission. Unfortunately my commitments preclude me from remaining with you today.
  Thirty two percent of the institutions reported to us can be described as an industrial school, training school, reformatory, orphanage or children’s home. Some of the children in these facilities would have been part of the child migration program in the third quarter of the last century. Others would have been born out of wedlock, and because of the cultural norm of that time, surrendered to institutional care. It can be assumed that with the cessation of those programs and the widespread use of contraception and more accepting social attitudes the risk to children in those circumstances has been removed.

However, with the closure of orphanages and similar residential institutions for children, the problems which children previously faced when living in dysfunctional families or without effective care from a parent or guardian have not disappeared. Many of those children will today find their way into out-of-home care. Others of them who have encountered difficulties with the justice system will end up in some form of detention. They remain vulnerable to abuse, although in a different institutional setting.
Apart from this group there are three other types of institutions which are subject to high levels of complaint in the reports we have received in private sessions. Thirty percent of our private sessions have been conducted with people who were abused in a school or other educational setting. Sixteen percent have told us they were abused in a place of worship, in a church youth group or seminary. About eight percent report abuse in out-of-home care.

The balance of those coming to us in private sessions report abuse in a variety of circumstances including child care, sporting groups, health care and juvenile justice. We can assume that the number of children in child care - both day care and after school care - will have increased.

It is obvious that in any institution which has responsibility for children there is a risk of sexual abuse. As I have said it is only the child migrant children and children born out of wedlock who are no longer in institutions. All of the other institutions and accordingly opportunities for abuse remain.
Some types of institutions, in particular out-of-home care, and child day care and after school care have increased in number over recent years. Because it takes, on average, more than 20 years for people to report abuse, in some cases significantly longer, it is wrong to assume that abuse of children in an institutional context is a problem of the past. The task of the Royal Commission is to identify appropriate recommendations to respond to a problem which, although of necessity described by past events, must respond to future risks.

I have described on previous occasions the care with which the Royal Commission selects institutions to be considered in a public hearing. Although some must be hearings in relation to institutions which have ceased to exist many are not. We have conducted public hearings into the Scouts, YMCA, three schools, two diocesan churches and the Salvation Army. All of these institutions continue to exist. The risk of abuse accordingly remains. We will continue to select public hearings where we can develop issues of present relevance and develop contemporary responses.

Faith-based institutions, whether residential facilities, schools or diocesan constitute a significant proportion of the institutions reported to us by survivors. Many of these are Catholic institutions. Although we will look at a representative sample of all institutions in public hearings it is inevitable that there will be multiple Catholic institutions which must be considered.

You will be aware of the recent statements by Vatican spokesmen and the Pope in relation to the sexual abuse of children. To further our inquiries into the response of the Catholic Church to offending priests and religious in Australia I have written to Cardinal Tarusio Bertone the Secretary of State of the Vatican City ....

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