Call to include State focus on child sex abuse in church

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has agreed to a royal commission into institutional responses to allegations of child sex abuse in Australia.

The Prime Minister said the terms of reference for the royal commission would be worked on in coming weeks, before the persons to lead the inquiry were appointed.

Australian Lawyers Alliance NSW spokesman, Dr Andrew Morrison SC, said Cardinal Pell recently led a review of his own archdiocese records to uncover allegations of child abuse, but was unable to say whether any claims had been referred to police and if he had seen any credible allegations of abuse, let alone those where the church’s Towards Healing program was involved, then his clear duty was to report such alleged abuses to the police.

“The inference from his inability to comment on such claims suggests he has not followed his obligations under Section 316 of the Crimes Act,” Dr Morrison said.

Dr Morrison said the Prime Minister's  national, wide-ranging Royal Commission on the issue was a great step and that any NSW Inquiry would make a useful contribution to such a federal examination.

“Premier [Barry O'Farrell’s] assertion that a broader Royal Commission would interfere with current investigations and prosecutions is inconsistent with his comments on radio this morning that the DPP is considering the prosecutions of three senior clergy,” Dr Morrison said.

"Those prosecutions are underway in Newcastle-Maitland and police investigations are being undertaken without any inconsistency with his limited Inquiry,” Dr Morrison said.

“There is nothing that a Royal Commission would do, but provide assistance to investigate and prosecute as other Royal Commissions over the years have managed with considerable skill.

"Mr O’Farrell has no excuse for failing to provide a wide-ranging Inquiry with Royal Commission powers into institutional abuse of children throughout NSW,” Dr Morrison said.

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