Justice Peter McClellan, who has been chosen to head the royal commission
The Catholic Church has said it will do what it can to assist the Royal Commission into child sex abuse abuse, including releasing victims from confidentiality agreements they've signed with the church, the head of the Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council has told the ABC.
The Church will also release any documents the Royal Commission might want, Francis Sullivan, the the head of the Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council, told the ABC in an interview last week.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced the terms of reference on January 11, saying Australia must never again avert its eyes from the ''evil and horrible'' spectre of child sexual abuse.
The commission will be led by Justice Peter McClellan, the Chief Judge at Common Law of the NSW Supreme Court, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The other five commissioners are the former Queensland police commissioner Bob Atkinson; Justice Jennifer Coate; Robert Fitzgerald, of the Productivity Commission; Professor Helen Milroy, and the former West Australian senator Andrew Murray.
In a media release responding to the government's announcement, Mr Sullivan said: "at its heart, the Royal Commission needs to let the full truth come out and ensure that the dignity of those who have been damaged by these atrocities is preserved, that they are supported, and not subject to a retraumatising of their experiences.
"It is essential that the Commission’s process contribute to the healing of the victims, and that institutions develop best-practice processes to address child sexual abuse."
The commissioners met for the first time last Wednesday. They will be appointed for three years and provide an interim report within 18 months. The terms of reference give the commission an end date of December 31, 2015, but Ms Gillard said that could be extended.
When Parliament resumes next month the government will introduce legislation to allow the commissioners to hear cases individually, rather than in concert.
The royal commission will be asked to report on what institutions and governments should do to address the past and future abuse of children, which could include forcing institutions to offer redress, having crimes referred for prosecution, and offering support services.
Church to hand over documents if asked (ABC)
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Sweeping powers granted to abuse inquiry (Australian)
Church responds to commission terms of reference