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Australia to offer apology for institutional child sex abuse

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a media conference in Sydne

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday he will deliver a national apology to victims of institutional child sexual abuse and their families on October 22.

The upcoming apology was sparked by a five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse which delved into more than 8,000 cases of sexual misconduct largely committed at religious and state-run institutions responsible for the safety of children.

“Now that we’ve uncovered the shocking truth, we must do everything in our power to honour the bravery of the thousands of people who came forward,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

Turnbull said on Wednesday the government would adopt 104 of the 122 recommendations posed by the inquiry, called a Royal Commission, which includes a national redress scheme that provides financial and legal services to victims.

The government is still considering the remaining 18 recommendations, including a proposal that Australia introduce a law forcing religious leaders to report child abuse.

The proposed law would capture Catholic priests told of abuse during confession, clashing with a central tenet of Catholicism, the confidentiality of the confessional.

It is rare for the Australian government to issue a national apology, which is reserved for egregious misdeeds where the state has played a role.

In 2008, the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to members of the Stolen Generations of indigenous Australians, who were forcibly taken from their families and communities when they were young children under assimilation policies.

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