Those who fell victim to sexual abuse as children during their time as scouts have now received a national apology, as Scouts Australia confirmed their commitment to “addressing the harm that some of its members have suffered”
Chief Commissioner of Scouts Australia Phil Harrison released the lengthy statement on Friday, and said sorry to survivors on behalf of all State and Territory Branch Chief Commissioners, following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which concluded at the end of last year.
“Scouts Australia listened to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, to survivor groups and most importantly to survivors,” Harrison said. “They indicated that an apology may help with survivors’ healing.
“Scouting sincerely hopes that the apology will help those who suffered through their time in Scouting, as well as their families who have also been affected. The apology is a genuine and heartfelt admission that, for some young people, their time in Scouting was a negative experience. For this, we are truly sorry.”
As well as releasing the apology, Harrison added that the most senior Scouting members across the country had met with a number of survivors to deliver personal apologies, adding that they would be willing to meet with any survivors who still wish to do so.
Harrison added: “In preparing the apology Scouts Australia has been assisted by some survivors, and organisations which support them. Nothing is more important to Scouts Australia than the safety of the children in our care.”
Back in May, all branches of Scouts Australia, along with the likes of the Salvation Army, Anglican Church and YMCA, signed up to the national redress scheme which was established to provide support to people who were sexually abused as children while in the care of an institution.
The National Redress Scheme was set up following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which heard evidence from more than 8,000 people in private sessions, as well as receiving more than 25,000 letters and over 42,000 calls. The scheme launched on 1 July 2018, subject to it passing the Senate, and will run for 10 years.
The lengthy inquiry took place following an announcement on 12 November 2012 by then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who made a recommendation to the Governor-General that a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into institutional responses to child abuse. It took place from January 2013 to December 2017, with the final report released at the end of last year.