Labor has urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to include Julia Gillard in a national apology he has promised to child sex abuse survivors for the “shocking” crimes committed against them.
Mr Turnbull announced on Wednesday the government’s formal response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
In addition to a national apology later this year, a national office of child safety will also be set up and a nationwide study done to determine where abuse is happening in order to prevent it in the future.
“The survivors have told their stories, many of them for the first time. They have been heard, and they have been believed, many of them for the first and only time,” Mr Turnbull said.
“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.”
The government has not rejected any of the royal commission’s recommendations.
“We accept or accept in principle 104 of the remaining 122 recommendations directed wholly or in part to the Australian government,” Mr Turnbull said.
The other 18 recommendations involve all levels of government, and require more work.
Mr Turnbull said the national apology to survivors of institutional sex abuse will be delivered on October 22, during National Children’s Week.
“It revealed that for too long the reporting of this abuse was met with indifference and denial by the very adults and institutions who were supposed to protect them,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Children’s safety should always be put first and we know thanks to the royal commission’s work, in far, far too many cases it wasn’t.”
The royal commission was set up by former prime minister Julia Gillard in November 2012 in response to what she described as “insidious, evil acts”. It officially began its work the following year.
When the commission handed down its final report in December 2017, Ms Gillard described the findings as “historic” and said the nation was “indebted” to the survivors and lawyers who worked with the inquiry.
On Wednesday, Labor leader Bill Shorten urged the government to include Ms Gillard in the “day for healing”.
“It is good the Prime Minister has said this. The apology was long overdue. Labor’s been calling for it. I’d expect the opposition would have a role in it,” Mr Shorten said.
“I’m going to actually say this too: The reason why we’re having this apology and the reason why there is redress is because Julia Gillard and the then-Labor government – with some opposition I might say from some elements of the conservative media and some elements of the then-opposition– said we need to have a royal commission into the institutional responses to child abuse.”
He continued: “I would like Mr Turnbull to offer Julia Gillard perhaps a role in this very important day. Prime minister Julia Gillard did start this, and leave aside all the debates about everything else, I think that was a significant contribution.”
Also on Wednesday, Mr Turnbull confirmed Western Australia would sign up to the redress scheme before its start date on July 1, meaning every state and territory would be covered.
The maximum redress payment will be $150,000, with the average payment expected to be $76,000.
Laws to bring in the redress scheme – which has the support of all major churches – are set to pass the Senate by the end of June.
Federal minister David Gillespie has been given responsibility for children’s policy issues and the Home Affairs Department will maintain a national “working with children checks” database.
State and territory governments are co-operating on another recommendation from the inquiry, dealing with religious confessions and their interaction with legal system.