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Most child sex abuse in out-of-home care

AAP logoAAP 14/08/2016 Anna Hitchings

Foster homes, orphanages and other out-of-home care facilities are the most dangerous hotspots for child sexual abuse in Australia, a royal commissioner says.

Justice Peter McClellan, who chairs the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, says out-of-home care is "of central concern" to the inquiry.

"Of all the categories of institutions identified by people who have had a private session with us, out-of-home care is the largest," he will say in a speech to be delivered to the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies National Conference in Sydney on Monday.

New commission analysis reveals 43 per cent of victims who've given evidence the sessions were abused in out-of-home care.

"We have heard concerns that the current out-of-home care system does not adequately protect children from sexual abuse or respond as well as it should when abuse occurs," Justice McClellan will say.

The commission has held 42 public hearings and listened to the personal stories of more than 5500 survivors in private sessions since it was set up in 2013 to investigate how institutions dealt with cases of sexual abuse of children.

In his speech, Justice McClellan will identify a systematic failure of care for children throughout the nation's modern history, due to a combination of prevailing social attitudes and "an unquestioning respect for authority of institutions".

He will suggest a national approach to protecting children in institutional care, including a centralised database of accreditations for childcare workers and increased regulation and oversight of institutions.

He will also point to the positive impact the commission has had since it began.

The NSW government this year passed legislation removing time limitations on civil claims for child sexual abuse, following Victoria's example.

Organisations such as Bravehearts, which runs workshops in identifying and responding to child sexual abuse, increased the number of trainees from 375 in 2011 to 3127 in 2015.

"The royal commission has ... brought widespread attention to the nature and extent of institutional child sexual abuse. In doing so, we have helped reduce the stigma associated with it," Justice McClellan will say.

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