Australia’s National Apology to Child Sexual Abuse  Institutional Survivors

 

By Rekha Bhattacharjee

October 22, 2018. Today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten made a National Apology in the Australian parliament and later apologized to the hundreds of Child Sex Abuse victims that gathered in Parliament House for an Apology from the Prime Minister.

It is the first time an Australian Government acknowledged the failures of government’s faith based institutions and other organizations to keep children and young people safe, and to respond appropriately.

The Prime Minister told the victims “I believe you, we believe you, your country believes you.”

The Prime Minister paid tribute to former Prime Minister Julia Gillard for setting up the Royal Commission inquiry and said it was a day to confront the failure to listen, believe and provide justice.

The Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told the gathering, “Let me answer one question which many of you will be thinking: Words are good, but will you do it? Where is the action? And I want to stay in acknowledging that today is not easy day for many because this Royal Commission looked at victims of sexual abuse and responses of institutions. But I want to acknowledge today those who were in institutions that while they may not have been sexually abused, suffered all sorts of grievous violence and abuse anyway. And beyond institutions, I want to acknowledge that this is a difficult day because for many people who suffered sexual abuse did not happen in an institution but abuse is an abuse! Our nation let you down. Today we offer our nations apology, with humility, with honesty, with hope of healing now and with a fire in our belly to ensure that our children will grow up safe in future.”

The Royal Commission Report makes preventing institutional abuse – A National Responsibility.

The apology was conducted in the Great Hall in The Parliament House in Canberra which was telecast live across the country:

We are sorry

Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked those gathered in the Great Hall to join hands, as he relayed the apology to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. He said:

“Today we say we are sorry.

“Sorry you are not protected.

“Sorry you are not listened to.

“We are sorry for refusing to trust the words of children, for not believing you.

“As we say sorry, we also say we believe you.

“We say what happened was not your fault.

“We are sorry the perpetrators of abuse were relocated and shielded, rather than held to account, that records have been withheld and destroyed and accountability avoided.

“We are sorry that the justice and child welfare systems that should have protected you were at times used to perpetrate yet more injustices against you.

“We apologise for the lifelong impact is this abuse has had on your health, your relationships, and your ability to live life to its full potential.

“We also extend his apology to your children, your parents, siblings, families, friends, and supporters. All those who have helped carry the burden of your experiences and help advocate accountability.”

 

 

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