In this photo provided by the Australian Government Royal Commission, the volumes of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sit on a table at Government House, in Canberra, Dec. 15, 2017. The commission delivered its final 17-volume report and 189 recommendations following a wide-ranging investigation. (Jeremy Piper/Australian Government Royal Commission via AP)
The 17-volume report from a five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia sits on a table at Government House in Canberra on December 15, 2017. Jeremy Piper / Australian Government Royal Comm

Australia failed to protect its children, national sex abuse inquiry says



Australian institutions "seriously failed" children in their care with tens of thousands sexually assaulted, the final report from a five-year inquiry said on Friday as it recommended that celibacy among Catholic priests should be voluntary to help curb abuse.

The government ordered the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2012 after a decade of pressure to investigate widespread allegations across the country.

The commission was contacted by more than 15,000 survivors who detailed claims of child abuse involving churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools, often dating back decades.

It heard horrific stories during often confronting and emotionally exhausting public and private hearings.

In total, more than 4,000 institutions were accused of abuse, with many of them Catholic-managed facilities.

"Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number," the final report said.

"Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions."

It said abuse occurred in almost every place where children resided or attended for educational, recreational, sporting, religious or cultural activities.

And it was not a case of a few "rotten apples".

"Some institutions have had multiple abusers who sexually abused multiple children," it said.

"Society's major institutions have seriously failed. In many cases those failings have been exacerbated by a manifestly inadequate response to the abused person.

"The problems have been so widespread, and the nature of the abuse so heinous, that it is difficult to comprehend."

More than 2,500 referrals have been made to police, with 230 prosecutions under way.

______________

Read more:

______________

The 17-volume report included recommendations for a shake-up of centuries of religious tradition, calling for Catholic ministers to be required to report abuse confided to them during confession.

It also urged the Catholic Church to make celibacy voluntary for its clergy, saying the existing requirement contributed to child abuse.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart apologised for the church's "shameful" past, but said it was up to the Vatican to decide on any changes.

He insisted the seal of the confessional "can't be broken", but said if someone confessed he was an abuser he would refuse them absolution until they went to the authorities.

Asked about voluntary celibacy, he said it was a "difficult thing".

"But I certainly would see the bishops pass on that recommendation to the Holy See, and they would then decide," said Archbishop Hart, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Among other recommendations was the creation of a National Office for Child Safety and a helpline to report abuse.

During its hearings, the commission heard that seven per cent of Catholic priests were accused of abuse in Australia between 1950 and 2010, but the allegations were never investigated, with children ignored and even punished when they came forward.

There were more than 1,800 alleged perpetrators, with the average age of the victims at the time 10 for girls and 11 for boys. The St John of God Brothers religious order was the worst in terms of allegations, with more than 40 per cent of members accused of abuse.

The inquiry embroiled Australia's most senior Catholic cleric George Pell, now the Vatican's finance chief, who was questioned over his dealings with paedophile priests in Victoria state in the 1970s.

He is accused of multiple historical sexual offences, with a committal hearing in March due to decide if there is enough evidence from the prosecution for the case against him to go to trial.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull paid tribute to the courage of survivors who gave evidence.

"The Royal Commission has validated the stories of survivors, has enabled survivors to be heard, and importantly, to be believed. For too long, crimes against our nation's children were covered up, or ignored," he said.

Three trading apps to try

Sharad Nair recommends three investment apps for UAE residents:

  • For beginners or people who want to start investing with limited capital, Mr Nair suggests eToro. “The low fees and low minimum balance requirements make the platform more accessible,” he says. “The user interface is straightforward to understand and operate, while its social element may help ease beginners into the idea of investing money by looking to a virtual community.”
  • If you’re an experienced investor, and have $10,000 or more to invest, consider Saxo Bank. “Saxo Bank offers a more comprehensive trading platform with advanced features and insight for more experienced users. It offers a more personalised approach to opening and operating an account on their platform,” he says.
  • Finally, StashAway could work for those who want a hands-off approach to their investing. “It removes one of the biggest challenges for novice traders: picking the securities in their portfolio,” Mr Nair says. “A goal-based approach or view towards investing can help motivate residents who may usually shy away from investment platforms.”
23-man shortlist for next six Hall of Fame inductees

Tony Adams, David Beckham, Dennis Bergkamp, Sol Campbell, Eric Cantona, Andrew Cole, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Les Ferdinand, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Roy Keane, Frank Lampard, Matt Le Tissier, Michael Owen, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic, Patrick Viera, Ian Wright.

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2