Brisbane Archbishop commends royal commission move
THE royal commission called by Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week will offer an "historic opportunity to protect Australian children".
Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, the Primate of the Anglican Church, made the statement on Friday as he commended Ms Gillard on the move.
Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Families Minister Brendan O'Connor this week began the task of drawing up terms of reference for the royal commission, which will examine the extent of and responses to child abuse across a range of institutions.
Archbishop Aspinall said the terms of reference should be "full and fearless" and called for the commission to be properly resourced and free from political agendas.
He said a truly federal process was appropriate given child sexual abuse crossed state and territory borders, infecting all places where child live, learn and play, including churches, schools, sporting clubs and families.
Archbishop Aspinall acknowledged that the royal commission would address shameful failings on the part of institutions, including churches.
But a comprehensive, independent examination would also give ordinary Australians a chance to see for themselves the results of a decade-plus reform process instituted across many Anglican dioceses.
It's 10 years since Archbishop Aspinall called on then Prime Minister John Howard to hold a royal commission into child sexual abuse.
A similar request to have a royal commission in Queensland also failed, leading to Archbishop Aspinall establishing an independent inquiry into the handling of abuse complaints across Brisbane Diocese, going back decades.
He reminded Ms Gillard all victims of child sexual abuse would be looking to the royal commission for answers and validation, including the vast majority of victims who were abused in family settings.
"Of the nearly 3.6 million Australians who call themselves Anglican, statistically one in four women and one in eight men are victims of abuse, so it is something that affects our church on many levels," Archbishop Aspinall said.
Archbishop Aspinall will write to Ms Gillard formalising his support for the royal commission and to raise matters for inclusion in the terms of reference.