The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) commends the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, on his national apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
The National Apology follows the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which released its final report in December 2017.
The RANZCP President Dr Kym Jenkins said: ‘Our thoughts are with all of the victims and survivors who have had to suffer, often in silence, the devastating effects of child sexual abuse on their mental health wellbeing over so many years.
‘We know from the work of the inquiry that the sexual abuse of children in institutional settings, and the reluctance of these institutions to address these, has had, and indeed continues to have, traumatic and damaging impacts on the lives of so many families.
‘We are told that the inquiry’s private hearing process has been helpful to many of those affected. The apology is another important step in the healing and recovery of victims and survivors.’
The long term consequences of child sexual abuse are complex and can impact upon an individual’s capacity for intimacy and interpersonal relationships as well as their physical health.
While the apology will be helpful for survivors, there is also a need for greater support including better access to ongoing trauma-informed care and improved therapeutic services for all of those in need.
There is much more to be done.
At a state and national level, it will be important to learn from these experiences and use the insights gained from the Royal Commission to ensure we prevent further episodes of institutional and other child sexual abuse in the future.
The RANZCP believes it will be important for the Commonwealth to consider carefully the full list of inquiry recommendations and take the lead on implementing responses to make sure this never happens again.
For a transcript of the National Apology see: Address to victims and survivors of sexual abuse
See also: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Final Report
Background – The Royal Commission Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
On 12 November 2012, the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced her recommendation to the Governor-General to establish a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Terms of Reference were established and six Commissioners appointed on 11 January 2013.
The Royal Commission was created in response to allegations of sexual abuse of children in institutional contexts in Australia for many years.
During the five-year inquiry, the Royal Commission heard from 7981 survivors of child sexual abuse in 8013 private sessions. There were 1344 written reports received.
On 15 December 2017, the Royal Commission released a final report detailing the culmination of a five-year inquiry.
Background – National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
The National Apology was shaped and informed by the work of National Apology Reference Group which reached out to victims and survivors, their families and support people in a national consultation process undertaken from May to July 2018.
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org
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