Scouts Australia apologize to child abuse victims | News | DW | 05.10.2018
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Scouts Australia apologize to child abuse victims

Australia's Scout movement "unreservedly" apologized to children who suffered sexual abuse during their time in the organization. The Scouts are a part of a compensation program, which includes the Catholic Church.

Australian Scouts offered an apology to abuse survivors on Friday and pledged to adopt all recommendations to prevent sex abuse following a government-backed inquiry.

"We failed you, and we apologize for the pain that this has caused," Phil Harrison, chief commissioner for Scouts Australia, said in a video message.

The move comes after a government-backed commission published its conclusions into child abuse in Australian schools, churches, and other organizations in December last year. The inquiry, which started in 2012, heard over 8,000 survivor testimonies in cases spanning several decades.

Read more: Australian military tolerated child sex abuse, inquiry finds

While the commission did not say how many children had been abused while in the Scouts, it confirmed there was "a long history" of such abuse in the movement.

Never alone with a young scout

On Friday, Scouts' chief Phil Harrison said that senior members of his organization had already met with survivors across Australia.

"It's a genuine and heartfelt admission that, for some young people, their time in scouting was a negative experience, and we are truly sorry for this," he added.

The organization currently has over 54,000 members under 18 years of age. According to the child protection policy adopted in 2016, leaders can never be alone with a youth member.

Scout Australia also joined a redress program which was launched in July 2018, based on a recommendation by the inquiry. The scheme aims to provide financial compensation to around 60,000 survivors of child abuse. The payments are capped at 150,000 Australian dollars ($106,000, €92,000).

The Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, YMCA, and the Salvation Army are also among the participants in the program. In July 2018, Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson stepped down after being convicted of failing to report child abuse

dj/ng (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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