A five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia has released its final report, making more than 400 recommendations.
The royal commission uncovered harrowing evidence of sexual abuse within institutions, including churches, schools and sports clubs.
Since 2013, it has referred more than 2,500 allegations to authorities.
The final report, released on Friday, added 189 recommendations to 220 that had already been made public.
“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number,” the report said.
“It is not a case of a few ‘rotten apples’. Society’s major institutions have seriously failed.”
Religious ministers and school teachers were the most commonly reported perpetrators, the report said.
- Acting on Australia’s landmark abuse inquiry
The recommendations include:
- A nationally implemented strategy to prevent child sex abuse
- A system of preventative training for children in schools and early childhood centres
- A national office for child safety, overseen by a government minister
- Making it mandatory for more occupations, such as religious ministers, early childhood workers and registered psychologists, to report abuse.
The greatest number of alleged perpetrators and abused children were in Catholic institutions, the report said.
The commission had previously recommended that Catholic clerics should face criminal charges if they fail to report sexual abuse disclosed to them during confession.
Letters from survivors
The royal commission held more than 8,000 private sessions with victims and gathered about 1,300 written accounts.
After revealing their experiences, survivors were invited to write about the process of coming forward.
They have now been compiled in a book – “Message to Australia” – which was described by one lawyer as “too heavy to lift”.
‘I can now pick up the pieces of my life’
The royal commission, Australia’s highest form of public inquiry, had been contacted by more than 15,000 people, including relatives and friends of abuse victims.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the commission had exposed “a national tragedy”.
“It is an outstanding exercise in love, and I thank the commissioners and those who have the courage to tell their stories – thank you very much,” he said on Friday.
The proposals will now be considered by legislators.