A national apology and redress scheme can be a vital part of real change

SYDNEY, Wednesday 8 February 2018:  UNICEF Australia welcomes the announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he will deliver an apology to the survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, as part of his government’s response to the findings and recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
 
“A national apology to the children, many now adults who endured sexual abuse at the hands of trusted institutions and the people who worked for or with them, is both a simple but deeply meaningful act,” said UNICEF Australia CEO, Tony Stuart.
 
“It marks a national moment when our country acknowledges that for decades we have failed to afford children one of their most basic rights – to be heard and protected – to be listened to without doubt, to be trusted, to express their views and have them taken seriously.”
 
Mr Stuart said it was very encouraging to hear the Prime Minster explain that: a taskforce would be set up within the Attorney-General’s Department to manage the process whereby government and non-government organisations would respond to the Commission’s 409 recommendation by June this year; a National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations had been developed and would be tabled at COAG on Friday; that Working with Children Checks would be strengthened; and that a Redress Scheme for survivors would commence on July 1.
 
He supported the Prime Minister in urging all governments and nongovernment institutions to fully support and participate in the scheme.
 
“An apology is one, very welcome, gesture,” Mr Stuart said. “However, a sincere apology requires that we ensure, to the fullest extent possible, that such a grave and shameful abuse of children in care never happens again. This demands that we reform and rebuild a national child protection system that truly protects children – in every home, community and institution.”
 
“We can never again say we didn’t know. Each and every one of us of us is accountable and has responsibility for preventing child sexual abuse and violence against children,” he said. “We must learn from the mistakes of the past, but commit to positive changes for children into the future.”
 
For more information, please contact:
Brinsley Marlay, UNICEF Australia, 0403 604 182, bmarlay@unicef.org.au