PM apologises to Australian child sex abuse victims
SYDNEY (AP) — Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered a formal apology Monday to Australia’s victims of child sex abuse, saying the nation must acknowledge their long, painful journey and its failure to protect them.
Morrison’s emotional speech given in Parliament before hundreds of survivors followed the conclusion of a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the nations’ highest level of inquiry.
“Today as a nation we confront our failure to listen, to believe, and to provide justice,” he said, adding: “We say sorry.”
Abuse survivors gathered in Parliament’s Great Hall cried, yelled and applauded as Morrison read the apology.
“I believe you, we believe you, your country believes you,” he said.
The four-year inquest that delivered its final report in December revealed shocking evidence from more than 17,000 survivors and heard allegations against the government, church, and private institutions, as well as prominent individuals.
It also heard evidence from leaders such as Vatican Cardinal George Pell, who is charged with committing historical sex abuses himself and was accused of failing to protect children.
The prime minister said in his speech Monday that it was time for Australia to confront key questions.
The lawmakers stood for a minute of silence following the apology, which came with the announcement of government plans to create a museum and research centre to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse and to ensure the nation does not forget the horrors victims have suffered.