Today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a formal public apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
This follows the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, published in December last year.
Scott Morrison delivering an apology to victims of institutional child abuse. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
The Prime Minister expressed sentiments that are not usually heard from the floors of the Australian Parliament:
“To the children we failed, sorry. To the parents whose trust was betrayed and who have struggled to pick up the pieces, sorry. To the whistleblowers who we did not listen to, sorry. To the spouses, partners, wives, husbands, children, who have dealt with the consequences of the abuse, cover-ups and obstruction, sorry.
“To generations past and present, sorry.”
“We honour every survivor in this country. We love you. We hear you. And we believe you.”
A number of church leaders have already made formal apologies to victims and survivors who were harmed within their institutions.
On the 9th October, Salvation Army Commissioner Floyd Tidd made these statements:
“The broader Australian community entrusted the Salvation Army with and expected us to protect some of its most vulnerable children. The testimony of survivors shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that that trust was betrayed in a most appalling way.”
“I am acutely aware that no form of words can erase the damage that was done to any individual who was abused while in our care.”
“I know for many of you that my words will seem too little too late.”
"I can only assure them and others that my words have come from my heart.”
"I hope they will provide some comfort to at least some survivors and their families today, for the truth of the matter is we betrayed your trust in ways that cannot be reconciled with our mission and with our values as a Christian organisation."
I think this reflects how the entire Christian community feels. What happened historically in our institutions can never be excused and will never be reconciled with our Christian values.
Let us all pause to reflect on the harm caused and the healing process for victims and survivors today.
If you know anyone in your circle who has suffered at the hands of institutions, reach out to them today and make sure they are okay.