'We failed them': Australian PM apologises to victims of institutional child sex abuse

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a national apology to thousands of victims of institutional child sexual abuse after an inquiry revealed 4,444 cases between 1980 and 2015

The report revealed that 7% of Australia’s Catholic priests were accused of abusing children over six decades since 1950
The report revealed that 7% of Australia’s Catholic priests were accused of abusing children over six decades since 1950

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a national apology to thousands of victims of institutional child sexual abuse, admitting that the state had failed to stop “evil, dark crimes” committed over decades.

Morrison's apology follows the release of last year's report by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse after a four-year inquest. He acknowledged that the nation had failed to protect the victims from "evil dark" crimes committed over decades.

"This was done by Australians to Australians, enemies in our midst, enemies in our midst," he told a parliamentary chamber in Canberra. "As a nation, we failed them, we forsook them, and that will always be our shame. We say sorry."

The inquest revealed shocking evidence from more than 17,000 survivors and heard allegations against government, church and private institutions, as well as prominent individuals.

The report released in 2017 by the Australian Royal Commission into child sex abuse included statistics on the scale of crisis levels within the Catholic Church, which showed that seven percent of Australia’s Catholic priests were accused of abusing children over six decades since 1950.

The worst institution according to the report was the Order of St John of God, where 40% of religious brothers are believed to have abused children.

In total, between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 people alleged incidents of child sexual abuse across more than 1,000 institutions.

Maltese connection

In 1928, talks began to urge the Congregation of the Christian Brothers to include Maltese children in the emerging migration scheme.

However, the first Maltese child migrants did not arrive in Australia until after World War II as the negotiations between the Maltese and Western Australian governments over the scheme carried on into the 1930s.

Between 1950 and 1965, 259 boys and 51 girls were sent to Catholic institutions in the West and South of Australia.  

Parents sent their children under the belief that they would receive a better education in Australia. The reality of the situation was that those children were put to work on Christian Brothers’ building projects, some never even learning to read or write in English. Among the travesties Maltese child migrants endured were sexual abuse and physical punishment. 

READ MORE: Slavedrivers. Abusers. Rapists. Men of God – The horror endured by Maltese child migrants in Australia

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