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Gillard acts on sex-abuse claims

Nov. 12, 2012 at 2:30 PM

SYDNEY, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called for an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse in Australian institutions, including schools and churches.

The investigation came after claims were made last week about systemic abuses and coverups by the Catholic church in New South Wales, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Gillard has called for a nationwide royal commission to investigate churches, charities, state governments, schools, community organizations and even the police.

"Any instance of child abuse is a vile and evil thing," the prime minister said. "There have been too many adults who have averted their eyes to this evil. There has been a systemic failure to respond to it and to protect children."

Opposition leader Tony Abbott said the coalition would support a royal commission that looked further than only the Catholic Church.

"Any investigation must be wide ranging, must consider any evidence of the abuse of children in Australia, and should not be limited to the examination of any one institution," Abbott said. "It must include all organizations -- government and non-government -- where there is evidence of sexual abuse. Victims must be allowed to heal, and perpetrators must be brought to justice."

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