THE thousands of abuse survivors who came forward to give evidence of their suffering are being acknowledged for their strength and courage ahead of the final hearing of a royal commission.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will hold the half-hour sitting in Sydney on Thursday mark the end of the $500 million five-year inquiry set up under the Gillard Labor federal government.
The Commission held its first public hearing in the County Court of Victoria in April 2013.
In 2014 it held hearings which discussed Christian Brothers schools in Western Australia, and a Perth independent school.
“The stories have been harrowing, the injustice has been shameful,” Labor Opposition leader Bill Shorten in a statement.
“We are committed to ensuring these brave men and women receive proper redress.”
The commission is expected to call for widespread reforms to protect children from sexual abuse in the community.
The final report will be handed to Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Friday and is expected to be tabled in parliament before being publicly released.
The commission has already called for significant reforms in areas such as the criminal and civil justice systems, as well as measures to make institutions safer for children.
However, the final report is expected to field further recommendations.
Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan has warned the sexual abuse of children is not just a problem of the distant past. Many cases presented to the inquiry occurred in a range of institutions in the last 10 to 15 years.
“We heard in private sessions from children as young as seven years of age who had been recently abused,” he said last month.
“In some case studies into schools, the abuse was so recent that the abused children are still attending school.”
The commission heard directly from 8013 survivors in private sessions, held 57 public hearings involving more than 1300 witnesses over 444 days, delivered findings on 44 case studies and conducted extensive research and policy work.
Blue Knot Foundation president Dr Cathy Kezelman said the commission listened to people who hadn’t previously been heard or believed.
“The systemic approach the commission’s taken in terms of the public hearings and the research has also given survivors hope that what happened to them hopefully will be less likely to happen in the future,” she said.