This week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced increasing demands to release asylum seeker families and children from Nauru who have been subject to reprehensible human rights abuses at the hands of the Australian government.
Perhaps this is the perfect moment to reflect upon a subject we probably don’t think about enough.
On Monday, October 22, history was made.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison voiced an apology that was almost six years in the making.
It was a national apology to victims of child abuse, the living and the dead.
But it was not Morrison, our Prime Minister of 61 days, who families of victims and survivors were desperate to thank.
It was Julia Gillard.
In November 2012, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the national royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
“These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject,” Gillard said of the allegations.
“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil.
“Australians know… that too many children have suffered child abuse, but have also seen other adults let them down – they’ve not only had their trust betrayed by the abuser but other adults who have acted to assist them have failed to do so.
“I believe we must do everything we can to make sure that what has happened in the past is never allowed to happen again,” she said.
So Gillard, a woman ironically lambasted for being unmarried and childless – details which apparently made her hard and unfeeling – advocated on behalf of some of Australia’s most vulnerable.
Since then, more than 17,000 survivors were heard by the commission.
At least 8,000 recounted their experiences in private sessions.
One in 10 people who spoke to the commission, had never before told anyone about the sexual abuse they experienced as a child.