The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Australian child sex abuse inquiry chief says more than 5,000 victims likely to testify

  • Print

MELBOURNE, Australia - The head of an Australia-wide commission looking into allegations of child sex abuse in state and religious institutions as well as community groups said more than 5,000 victims are likely to give evidence of their harrowing experiences.

Justice Pete McClellan chairs a bench of six commissioners who on Wednesday started a powerful government-appointed inquiry known in Australia as a Royal Commission. Witnesses can be compelled to testify and risk imprisonment for lying.

The inquiry was unlikely to achieve its deadline set by the government of late 2015 because so many people wanted to give evidence, he said.

McClellan said he expected at least 5,000 people will want to give evidence, but the actual number could be much higher.

"The task we have is large; the issues are complex," McClellan said.

"But we are now in a position to actively begin the work of gathering the stories and examining the responses of institutions," he added.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the commission in November in the face of a string of sexual abuse accusations against priests and claims of a Roman Catholic Church coverup.

The New South Wales state government had ordered an inquiry a week earlier into allegations of a sexual abuse coverup by Catholic priests in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney. Victoria state officials had also begun investigating a separate series of priest sex abuse allegations in their state.

Since the federal inquiry was announced, more than 6,000 people have contacted staff in writing or by phone.

The government has offered free legal advice to people who want to make submissions to the inquiry before public hearings begin after September.

Gillard said the Royal Commission was an important "moral moment" for the nation.

"It is going to require our country to stare some very uncomfortable truths in the face," she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that the snow is mostly gone, what are your plans?

View Results

Ads by Google