The President of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, Dr Cathy Kezelman, says she hopes the Royal Commission into child sex abuse will lead to more accountability for perpetrators and increased support for child abuse victims.
By
Chiara Pazzano

16 Sep 2013 - 7:26 PM  UPDATED 16 Sep 2013 - 7:26 PM

Today, the first public hearings of the Royal Commission into institutional child sexual abuse have begun in Sydney.

President of Adults Surviving Child Abuse Dr Cathy Kezelman says the inquiry is a great start.

"What we have for the first time is the possibility for people to be heard in private sessions and also for forensic inquiries into the impediments and blocks in institutions," she says.

"And that is formal, in terms of proceedings and informal in terms of culture. That has meant that children have not been protected, have been harmed, and that has meant that institutions have been protected and not children".

She says the inquiry is limited though, as it's only looking at child sexual abuse in institutions.

"It's not looking at other forms of abuse and it's not looking at abuse and trauma in childhood that occurs outside of institutions, in the family, in the home, in the community - external to institutions".

She says 63 per cent of people are abused by family members; 20 per cent by members of the extended family; 10 per cent by family friends; 18 per cent by institutions, and 2 per cent by strangers.

"We know that the vast majority of people are abused by someone they know and many of them are abused by members of their immedidate family".

Dr Kezelman hopes the inquiry will lead to more accountability for perpetrators.

"The best outcome is that we would have eroded a lot of the stigma around child abuse, that people can speak out, that there will be mandatory reporting of crime, that children who are at risk of harm, or being harmed, will be protected and be believed.

"That there will be justice for survivors. That there will be accountability for perpetrators and for people complicit in covering up crime and that as a society, we work to together to eradicate what is a massive scourge of child abuse".

Dr Kezelman, who is a survivor of child sex abuse herself, hopes the inquiry will also lead to better support for people who've experienced such trauma.

"All children and adults who are victims of all sorts of abuse need the right care, need professionals who understand the particular needs of survivors of this sort of trauma".

To hear the full interview, click on the video above.

Factbox: The royal commission into child sexual abuse

Watch: SBS's Christine Heard reports on the first day of Royal Commission public hearings