Police commissioners set to apologise over handling of child abuse cases


The nation's police commissioners are planning to apologise over its handling of child sex abuse cases, but some are questioning the delay.

Thousands of people have given evidence to Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, with police forces around the country now planning a formal apology over their treatment of the cases.

Co-founder of the Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) support group Leonie Sheedy said many of the crimes against children were ignored by police at the time.

"Children did try to speak out about the crimes being committed against them, but the Police didn't believe them." Ms Sheedy said.

"To not be believed is horrendous."

The apology was discussed at a meeting of Australia's police chiefs in September last year, after ongoing requests from CLAN.

"They have a moral obligation to own their history, acknowledge it, and apologise," CLAN's Leonie Sheedy said.

Cathy Kezelman, president of the BlueKnot support group said the apology is "long overdue".

"It's very good news. I think it's high time that people in a position of power and heirarchy apologise to survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions."

But Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton said the commissioners will wait until after the royal commission's final report is released in December.

"It's best to wait until we get the report from the Royal Commission, then we can shape the apology in the best way that we think's going to have the best effect," Commissioner Ashton said.

But, Ms Sheedy believes "that's too long for our people to wait".

“People are dying, we've had three of our members die over the Christmas period,” she said.

“Why can't we have an apology from all the police commissioners of this country?"

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is due to hand down its final report on December 15.

Readers seeking support and information can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732, and Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380.

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