Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Australia orders child sex abuse inquiry

Australia's prime minister orders federal inquiry into allegations of child sex abuse in state and religious institutions following a string of accusations against priests and claims of a Catholic Church cover-up.

SYDNEY // Australia's prime minister ordered a federal inquiry yesterday into allegations of child sex abuse in state and religious institutions and community groups following a string of accusations against priests and claims of a Catholic Church cover-up.

Julia Gillard had faced mounting pressure to order a wide-ranging investigation after the New South Wales state premier last week ordered an inquiry into allegations of a sexual abuse cover-up by Catholic priests in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney.

Victorian officials were also investigating a separate series of priest sex abuse allegations in their state.

"Any instance of child abuse is a vile and evil thing. Australians know that," Ms Gillard said.

"Australians know, from the revelations that they've read in recent weeks, that too many children have suffered child abuse but have also seen other adults let them down," she said.

"They've not only had their trust betrayed by the abuser, but other adults who could have acted to assist them have failed to do so."

The investigation will target religious and state institutions, schools and community groups such as sporting clubs.

It will also look into police responses to abuse allegations and is expected to take several years to complete.

Last week, New South Wales ordered a state inquiry after a veteran police detective wrote an open letter to the premier accusing the Catholic Church of thwarting his attempts to investigate child sex abuse allegations in the Hunter Valley.

Peter Fox, who spent years investigating abuse allegations in the Hunter region, said that the church destroyed evidence, silenced victims and shuffled around accused priests in a bid to cover up abuse.

There have been hundreds of allegations of abuse by priests in the region since the mid-1990s.

Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell, Australia's highest-ranking Catholic official, had previously said he thought that a federal inquiry would be a "disproportionate" attack on the church.

But yesterday, he said the church would cooperate with the inquiry, adding that he hoped the investigation would unveil the truth.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Fatema holds a picture of her son Nurul Karim as she poses for a photograph in front of her slum house in Savar. Fatema lost her son Nurul Karim and her daughter Arifa, who were working on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza when it collapsed on April 24, 2013. All photos Andrew Biraj / Reuters

These women know the real price of cheap high street fashion

Survivors of the world's worst garment factory accident, struggle to rebuild their lives from the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse as Bangladesh prepares to mark the first anniversary of the disaster.

 Supporters of unseen India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate and Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, wave as he arrives to file his election nomination papers in Varanasi. Sanjay Kanojia / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world April 24

The National View's photo editors pick the best of the day from around the world

 Iranian workers at the Iran Khodro auto plant in Tehran on March 18. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

Iran’s love of cars survives devastating sanctions

Sanctions and energy subsidy reductions might have hurt the Iranian automotive industry. But car makers at one factory are still optimistic, Yeganeh Salehi reports from Tehran

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Aiza Tonida puts out laundry amid the ruins of her parents home in Leyte province that was destroyed when Typhoon Haiyan struck central Philippines on November 8, 2013. Joey Reyna for The National

Filipinos seek Middle East jobs to rebuild lives after Haiyan

Work in the GCC seen as only hope for thousands left homeless and jobless after devastating storm in November.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National