The Primate of the Anglican Church said today that the royal commission called by Prime Minister Julia Gillard offered an historic opportunity to protect Australian children.
Brisbane’s Archbishop Phillip Aspinall commended the Prime Minister for her decision to establish a royal commission. He also urged that the commission’s terms of reference should be full and fearless and called for the commission to properly resourced.
He said a truly federal process was warranted given child sexual abuse crosses State and territory borders, infecting all places where child live, learn and play, including churches, schools, sporting clubs and families.
Archbishop Aspinall acknowledged that the royal commission would address shameful failings on the part of institutions, including churches. But a comprehensive, independent examination would also give ordinary Australians a chance to see for themselves the results of a decade-plus reform process instituted across many Anglican dioceses.
In Archbishop Aspinall’s Brisbane diocese, every allegation of child sexual abuse is reported to police, the diocese assists police, victims of historic abuse have been actively sought out, multiple times, via media calls and advertising.
Ms Gillard’s announcement of a royal commission came 10-years after Archbishop Aspinall requested the then Prime Minister to hold a royal commission into child sexual abuse, which was declined. Archbishop Aspinall then sought to have a royal commission into this matter in Queensland. When that was request was also unsuccessful, he established an independent inquiry into the handling of abuse complaints across Brisbane Diocese, going back decades.
Archbishop Aspinall urged all members of parliament to commit to ensuring the royal commission is well-resourced, independent and free from political agendas.
He also reminded the Prime Minister that all victims of child sexual abuse would be looking to the royal commission for answers and validation, including the vast majority of victims who are abused in family settings.
“Of the nearly 3.6 million Australians who call themselves Anglican, statistically one in four women and one in eight men are victims of abuse, so it is something that affects our church on many levels,” Archbishop Aspinall said.
Archbishop Aspinall said he would write to the Prime Minister soon to formalise his support for a national royal commission, to the extent of his powers as Primate and Archbishop of Brisbane, and to raise matters for inclusion in the terms of reference.
Communications and Media Officer
Anglican Diocese of Brisbane
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