North Coast abuse claims to be dealt with in November

THE handling of sex abuse complaints at the New South Wales North Coast Children's Home in Grafton will be investigated by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in November.

A public hearing of allegations in New South Wales began in Sydney on Monday, with the commission revealing it had more than 4000 reports of allegations since it began.

Counsel Assisting, Gail Furness, said the commission's third public hearing in NSW would focus on the handling of complaints and civil litigation regarding the allegations in Grafton.

The hearings will investigate how the Anglican Diocese of Grafton handled the complaints of child sexual abuse at the children's home during 2006 and 2007.

Commissioner Justice Peter McClellan, on Monday, warned that the stories the commission had already heard would shock people around the nation.

The commission has already heard the cases of nearly 400 victims, with a further 449 waiting to tell their stories and another 1178 people yet to be assessed for private hearings.

Justice McClellan outlined the huge work ahead for the commission, expecting the average of 22 phone calls everyday would only rise as more public hearings got under way.

Already under the spotlight is on the responses of various New South Wales organisations included Scouts state and national branches, the Department of Community Services and NSW Police.

The commission has also begun investigating responses to child sexual abuse allegations within the Hunter Aboriginal Children Services Corporation, among other groups.

Ms Furness also said the commission would also turn its attention to the Catholic Church in Australia in hearings next year.

Justice McClellan said while it was apparent "many more" private hearings would need to be held, there were already specific issues coming to light.

He said where an organisation lacked "an appropriate culture" and staff were not given proper training or checks "there is a risk of sexual abuse occurring".

Justice McClellan said it was also apparent sexual abuse of children was "almost always" accompanied by physical abuse by perpetrators.

He said it was clear victims went on to suffer distrust of adults, confusion regarding their sexual orientation and many other psychological effects during their lives.

Those wishing to tell their stories to the commission can contact it at: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au or call: 1800 099 340.

For support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14; 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732; and Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) on 1300 657 380.


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