Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard Chris Ison

Response to child sex abuse will be investigated: Gillard

SOME of Australia's leading minds will lead the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on Friday.

The Royal Commission will be led by Justice Peter McClellan, the current Chief Judge at Common Law of the New South Wales Supreme Court.

Ms Gillard said the commission would investigate how institutions responsible for children had managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.

It will also look into where systems to protect children have failed and make recommendations on how to improve laws and policies.

But the inquiry would not look at individual child sexual abuse, such as those occurring within the family, or abuse of children other than sexual abuse, within institutions.

Joining Justice McClellan will be five other commissioners, including former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, Victorian magistrate Justice Jennifer Coate, former NSW Deputy Ombudsman Robert Fitzgerald, psychiatrist Professor Helen Milroy and former Western Australian Senator Andrew Murray.

Ms Gillard said the government had already heard back from many survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their families who wanted concrete changes in a reasonable timeframe.

"Child sexual abuse is a crime, and a terrible breach of the right of every child to grow up safe and happy," she said.

"I believe our nation needs to learn these lessons and act on them for the future.

"To those survivors of child sexual abuse today, we are able to say we want your voices to be heard."I hope we can provide some comfort to those victims of child sexual abuse."

Ms Gillard said the commission would report back with an interim report by June 30 2014, with a final report expected by the end of 2015.

The Governor-General Quentin Bryce has agreed to appoint the six commissioners as part of the Royal Commission, and some minor changes to national Royal Commission laws will be made to allow the commission to go ahead.