Royal Commission into child sex abuse

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The last census revealed that just over 60% of Australians identified as Christian, but only one in seven of those attended church regularly. Shutterstock

This Easter, churches will be praying for a rebirth

Church affiliation and attendance is on the wane in Australia – a trend that is unlikely to be reversed be the recent slew of sex abuse scandals.
George Pell’s evidence, which implied that children’s complaints of abuse were widely disbelieved ‘back then’, overlooks the long history of successful prosecutions. AAP/Jeremy Piper

To believe or not to believe: child witnesses and the sex abuse royal commission

George Pell told the royal commission into child sex abuse the Catholic Church was predisposed not to believe children's complaints. But, when abuse was reported, police and the courts believed them.
Tim Minchin’s song-craft is direct yet sophisticated, and artfully constructed. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Tim Minchin’s Come Home Cardinal Pell is a pitch-perfect protest song

Tim Minchin’s latest musical offering, Come Home Cardinal Pell, is provoking strong reactions because of its blunt and direct message to Cardinal George Pell. But in terms of song-craft, it's a winner.
Nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, Spotlight has won over critics with its compelling story and strong cast featuring Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. Entertainment One Films Australia

Review: Spotlight’s revealing story of child abuse in my home town – and maybe yours

If you haven't seen Oscar winner Spotlight yet, go. It tells the true story of how decades of abuse in one city was finally uncovered - followed by revelations worldwide, including in my home town.
Some who survived abuse as children have waited a lifetime to be heard, and the royal commission has given people like John Ellis that opportunity. AAP/Jeremy Piper

A small act to give abused children a voice

The silencing of children has as long a history as child abuse itself. It is why we need royal commissions, books, and now a play: to allow children to tell us the truth of what was done to them.
Former Prisoner star Maggie Kirkpatrick was found guilty of a charge of child sex abuse dating back to the 1980s. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Why does it take victims of child sex abuse so long to speak up?

Many factors are at play in enabling or constraining a child to speak directly about abuse and bringing that complaint to the attention of the authorities.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are under the spotlight at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Jehovah’s Witness hierarchy means child sex abuse goes unreported

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not report child abuse to authorities. Instead, they convene an in-house judicial committee, which is fraught with difficulty because they rely on a "two-witness rule".
An issue to emerge from the royal commission hearings is the inadequacy of existing law for dealing with institutions whose negligence made child sexual abuse possible. AAP/Royal Commission

When institutions let child sexual abuse happen, that should be a crime

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published a research paper that suggests organisations be held criminally responsible when their negligence results in harm to children.
Broadcaster Derryn Hinch is a prominent campaigner for US-style sex offender registries, but it is important to be aware of their limitations. AAP/Dan Peled

Sex offender registers don’t mean we can assume children are safe

Western Australia was the first state in the nation to allow public access to a sex offender register online. The public needs to understand how it works to avoid a false sense of security.
The Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, has been charged with concealing child sexual abuse in the 1970s. AAP/David Maruiz

Philip Wilson charges mark a dark day for the Catholic Church

Philip Wilson, the Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, is the most senior clergyman in the world to face a charge of concealing sexual abuse in the church.
Religious institutions have consistently struggled to respond to child sexual abuse cases appropriately. L'Osservatore Romano/EPA

Speaking with: Tim Jones on child sexual abuse within religious institutions

Speaking with: Tim Jones on child sexual abuse within religious institutions. The Conversation21.6 MB (download)
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reconvened this week. Announced in 2012, the commission was established due to growing concerns over consistently inadequate responses…
Convicted sex offender and former Marist Brother Gregory Sutton (left) tries to hide his face while leaving a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse hearing. AAP/Dean Lewins

Breaking the silence about white Australian men’s abuse of children

I have seen firsthand how child sexual abuse is rife in every part of the Australian community – but only sometimes is that abuse reported in full colour. It probably won’t surprise you if I say that I’ve…
Former Retta Dixon resident Sandra Kitching guides the royal commissioners around what was the site of the children’s home. AAP/Neda Vanovac

How was ‘improper conduct’ at the Inland Mission buried for so long?

In 1998, the new directors of the Aborigines Inland Mission changed its name to Australian Indigenous Ministries. They cleaned out the cupboards and placed the archive they had inherited, starting with…
George Pell insists it is individual moral failures that are the root of the Catholic Church’s problems. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Church’s moral failure on trial at the Royal Commission

It is the long-held view of Cardinal George Pell and other senior Catholic officials that the sexual abuse crisis is an issue primarily about the moral failure of individual priests and not related to…
Throughout his recent royal commission appearance, Catholic cardinal George Pell focused on the ‘choices’ that victims of abuse make. AAP/Paul Miller

Moral responsibility a drive-by victim of Pell’s view of the church

Cardinal George Pell’s appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will do little to rehabilitate his image in the eyes of clergy abuse victims. Via video link…
The Anglican Church has responded to the Royal Commission by allowing priests in some circumstances to report confessions of sexual abuse. AAP/Jeremy Piper

Anglican shift on confessions puts abuse victims' interests first

The Australian Anglican Church has put the interests of children and victims of crime ahead of tradition and doctrine. Priests who hear confessions about serious criminal offences, including child abuse…

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