Six-member Royal Commission to investigate child sex abuse

DETAILS of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse have taken shape following an announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard early this afternoon.

She formally announced that the Governor-General had appointed a six-member Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

During the press conference, Ms Gillard said child abuse was an "evil crime" and that "we've all got an obligation to shine a light on what's happened in the past".

"Child sexual abuse is a crime, and a terrible breach of the right of every child to grow up safe and happy," she said.

"Child sexual abuse is often associated with other forms of abuse including physical abuse, exploitation and neglect.

"All have long-term effects on survivors and their families. There are also costs to the economy and society as a whole."

Justice Peter McClellan AM will head the inquiry, which will prepare an interim report by no later than June 30, 2014.

"The Royal Commission will inquire into how institutions with a responsibility for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse and related matters," Ms Gillard said.

"It will investigate where systems have failed to protect children, and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse in institutions.

"The Commissioners can look at any private, public or non-government organisation that is, or was in the past, involved with children, including government agencies, schools, sporting clubs, orphanages, foster care, and religious organisations."

There were about 200 formal written submissions on the commission's terms of reference, as well as about 600 emails.

The terms of reference put an end date of December 31, 2015, but Ms Gillard said that could be extended.

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