Clergy abuse survivors have been publicly thanked for telling their stories as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse officially ended its five-year-long inquiry.
Chair Justice Peter McClellan used a symbolic sitting held in Sydney on Thursday to reflect on the history of the commission, honour the survivors, and warn sexual abuse of children was not only a problem of the past.
He said more than 15,000 people had contacted the royal commission, more than 8000 people had spoken with a commissioner in a private session and more than 1300 survivors had provided a written account of their experiences.
For many of the survivors who had never reported their abuse to police or a person in authority, the royal commission marked the first time they had told their stories.
“They have had a profound impact on the commissioners and our staff,” Justice McClellan said of the survivors.
“Without them we could not have done our work… they deserve our nation’s thanks.”
He said recounting the abuse had required great courage and determination.
“Most are stories of personal trauma and many are of personal tragedy. It is impossible not to share the anger many survivors have felt when they tell us of their betrayal by people they believed they were entitled to trust,” Justice McClellan said.
He also recognised the parents, spouses and siblings who had come forward about allegations of abuse of their relatives who had died, sometimes through suicide.
There have been calls throughout the community for the government to fully support all of the recommendations and make them public as soon as possible once they are handed down in the final report on Friday.
To contact CASA, located on the corner of Vale and Edwards streets, Sebastopol, call 5320 3933 or free call 24 hours 1800 806 292. Lifeline can be accessed on 13 11 14.