Royal commission final report recommends government strategy to prevent child sexual abuse

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A ROYAL commission argues Australia needs a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse as it warns governments and institutions they must not fail children again.

The inquiry has controversially suggested the Catholic Church consider voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy and the Jehovah’s Witnesses abandon a 2000-year-old rule in handling child sex abuse cases and stop shunning victims who leave the organisation.

It again called for strengthened and nationally consistent mandatory reporting laws that include people in religious ministry and no exemption when the information came from a religious confession.

It also wants abusers stripped of any honours and a national memorial to recognise the tens of thousands of children sexually abused in more than 4000 Australian institutions.

The report revealed the institution where survivors were most likely to have been abused.

The royal commission’s 17-volume final report has more than 400 recommendations, the bulk of which have already been released, aimed at making institutions safer for children

“Further necessary and lasting change must come from a resolve by governments, institutions and the entire community to acknowledge the failures of the past and ensure they are not repeated,” the report, released on Friday, said.

It said all children have the right to a safe and happy childhood.

“We must not fail them.”

The commission said there was no simple explanation for why child sexual abuse had occurred in a multitude of institutions.

“It is remarkable that in so many cases the perpetrator of abuse was a member of an organisation that professed to care for children.

“Just as remarkable was the failure of the leaders of that institution to respond with compassion to the survivor.”

The commission wants the federal government to oversee the development and implementation of a national strategy to prevent future abuse, including a federal minister for children’s issues, and a new framework for child safety.