Australia pledges apology to child abuse victims

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Canberra, June 13 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull said on Wednesday that his government would issue a national apology to the victims of institutional child abuse.

In December, a special commission investigating the institutional response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors presented its final report, with more than 400 recommendations regarding what it described as a national “tragedy”, including 122 for the government, reports Efe news.

“Now that we’ve uncovered the shocking truth, we must do everything in our power to honour the bravery of the thousands of people who came forward,” Turnbull told the media here.

Turnbull said he would act upon 104 of the 122 recommendations, including establishing a National Office for Child Safety, while another 18 have been “noted or requiring further consideration”.

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The Prime Minister is expected to make the apology on October 22 to coincide with National Children’s Week.

Every Australian state and territory has pledged to sign the National Compensation Plan that is set to come into effect on July 1, being another key recommendation of the Royal Commission.

The programme provides for up to AU$150,000 ($112,636) compensation to each victim of institutional child abuse.

The Commission, established in 2012 by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, interviewed more than 8,000 victims who suffered sexual abuse committed by members of over 4,000 public institutions in the country since the 1920s.

More than half of the victims said they were between 10 and 14 years old when they were sexually molested for the first time and that the abuse lasted for an average of 2.2 years, while 36 per cent of them were assaulted by several attackers.

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–IANS

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