SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday that his government would issue a national apology to the victims of institutional child abuse and their families.
In December, a special commission investigating the institutional response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors presented its final report, with more than 400 recommendations regarding what it described as a national “tragedy,” including 122 for the government.
“Now that we’ve uncovered the shocking truth, we must do everything in our power to honor the bravery of the thousands of people who came forward,” Turnbull said at a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday.
Turnbull said he would act upon 104 of the 122 recommendations, including establishing a National Office for Child Safety, while another 18 have been “noted or requiring further consideration.”
The prime minister is expected to make the apology on Oct. 22 to coincide with National Children’s Week.
Every Australian state and territory has pledged to sign the National Compensation Plan that is set to come into effect on July 1, being another key recommendation of the Royal Commission.
The program provides for up to AU$150,000 ($112,636) compensation to each victim of institutional child abuse.
The Commission, established in 2012 by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, interviewed more than 8,000 victims who suffered sexual abuse committed by members of over 4,000 public institutions in the country since the 1920s.
More than half of the victims said they were between 10-14 years old when they were sexually molested for the first time and that the abuse lasted for an average of 2.2 years, while 36 percent of them were assaulted by several attackers.