Public calls to stop the rot

MEMBER for Dubbo Troy Grant has been "overwhelmed" with "total support" for the demands he made that helped give rise to a national royal commission into child sex abuse.

The MP, a former police officer who led the paedophilia investigation of priest Vincent Ryan, yesterday welcomed the announcement of an inquiry with scope expanded to go beyond the Catholic Church and target all institutions, including not-for-profit groups such as scouts and sporting clubs.

He said he had campaigned for a royal commission not as a "church-bashing exercise" but to tackle the crime and allow victims to be heard.

It was a hard-line stance - just days ago he called for Cardinal George Pell to resign - but it struck a chord in the community.

"I have been inundated and overwhelmed with support by way of calls, texts, emails and letters from constituents and others from across the country in total support," he said.

"I have not undertaken a church-bashing exercise, I have called for leadership to properly address this issue so that the church can remove the stain of paedophilia for once and all and victims can be properly heard."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the royal commission on Monday, saying it would be established by the end of the year.

It was important to examine institutional responses to child abuse, she said, because there was evidence that adults other than the abusers had not done enough to protect children.

"It's not just the evil of the people who do it, there has been a systemic failure to respond to it and to protect children," Ms Gillard said.

"We need to learn the lessons about how institutions can best respond when there are allegations of sexual abuse of children."

Mr Grant, who is from a Catholic family, had experience with institutional responses during his time in the police force, and previously said the church could have saved many more victims.

After the royal commission announcement he said he wanted to participate.

“I’d be happy to be the first one in the door to give evidence,” he said.

Yesterday MPs pushed for varying timeframes for the royal commission and Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, fronted the media to defend the church, saying it had worked hard to uncover child abuse.

With his main goal achieved, Mr Grant left the details to others - he said he had no suggestion for who could lead the inquiry.

But the MP suggested an earlier investigation could prove a valuable guide.

“I believe the framework of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody is a great starting point for this royal commission to pursue with state representation,” he said.

faye.wheeler@ruralpress.com

See also:

Where there is smoke there is fire

Investigation must not turn into a ‘witch hunt’ says Bartley

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