Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a national inquiry into institutional responses to the sexual abuse of children by the end of this year. The decision to establish a commission to gather evidence against religious and other institutions came after the emergence of a series of scandals involving pedophile priests.
These investigations, being planned by Gillard and the Australian government, will be similar to those carried out in Ireland, which concluded with reports such as the Ryan Report, uncovering various cover-ups and serious crimes around Ireland.
A case in Hunter Valley in New South Wales, which was revealed by a senior policeman, showed that the Catholic Church had destroyed evidence and silenced inquiries into the crimes.
Speaking at a press conference Gillard told reporters, “There have been revelations of child abusers being moved from place to place rather than the nature of their abuse and their crimes being dealt with.
“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil. I believe in these circumstances that it is appropriate for there to be a national response through a royal commission.”
The leader emphasized that the commission would not be focusing on the Catholic Church but that it would probe all religious and state institutions and schools.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox has said that he will not rest until there is an investigation into sexual abuse cover ups. He said in his experience sexual abuse within the Catholic Church was not just covered up but victims were silenced, police investigations were hindered, evidence was destroyed, and priests were moved to cover up the crimes.
Fox said, “I’ve got no doubt that it’s got tentacles everywhere…State boundaries aren’t going to stop these sorts of predators from operating.”
Peter Blenkiron, a victim of abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers, spoke to fellow survivors who were in tears having heard Gillard’s announcement.
Speaking to the Herald Sun, Blenkiron said that although emotionally difficult, it was a “necessary cleansing” of evil.
He said, “This is massive. I've just been speaking to blokes in tears, tears of joy.
“People have asked me what about the hardship it's going to create for everybody. It's a necessary short-term pain for long-term gain that brings out the truth."
Blenkiron also slammed Australia’s primate Cardinal George Pell who said the call for a commission was disproportionate.
He said, “It's not church bashing, this is a necessary cleansing to remove pure evil from organizations that call themselves religious bodies.
"What organization would want those evil men as part of them?"
The Australian Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbot said the government was prepared to support the commission.
Here’s the news conference footage: