OVER the past nine months, I attended three public hearings of the state government inquiry into institutionalised child abuse.
During the first, in Ballarat, I heard graphic descriptions of rape and abuse that no child should ever have to endure.
In Melbourne, I heard the Catholic diocese of Ballarat lay the blame for its appalling child sex abuse record at the feet of former Bishop Ronald Mulkearns and his poor record keeping.
I heard the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, try to rationalise the church's blatant failings regarding children in its care.
And I also observed a passionate committee of six MPs of all persuasions refusing to accept excuses or be awed by titles.
Archbishop Pell was subjected to the same intense grilling as the Bishop of Ballarat.
The recommendations released in the committee's report clearly reflect its desire to provide "genuine reparation" for the victims.
It is also scathing of the Catholic Church and its desire to protect not only the perpertrator, but its finances too.
The report is scathing of the Catholic Church and its desire to protect not only the perpertrator, but its finances
If adopted by the state government, criminal laws around mandatory reporting, child endangerment and grooming will be beefed right up. Legal barriers to civil litigation will be reduced and non-government organisations will be made legally much more accountable.
There will also be no statute of limitations on child abuse claims. This clause effectively and decisively blunts one of the church's strongest defence against being sued.
Similarly, looking at having the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal adminster a specific scheme for criminal child abuse victims could potentially open the church's well-guarded financial floodgates.
Setting up an independent statutory body to monitor child abuse allegations and responses to them will help protect children into the future, as will making it much harder for offenders to slip through working with children systems.
The state government now has six months to consider the recommendations. Let's hope it acts sooner to provide justice to victims and protection for all children now.