>> A harrowing picture of child abuse throughout Australia. A five year inquiry into the country's institutions ended on Friday with a 17 volume report that found decades of cover ups and failures to safeguard children and estimates tens of thousands have been abused.>> What that commision has done, has been to expose a national tragedy.
It's an outstanding exercise in love. And I thank the commissioners and those who had the courage to tell their stories.>> The report calls for big changes, particularly in the Catholic Church. And recommends a law forcing religious leaders to report abuse. Reuters' Byron Kaye explains why.>> Primarily it's calling for an end to an exemption that the church, that the Catholic Church has had on information about child abuse that's given in the confessional.
The confessional in the Catholic Church is seen as a sacred part of the religion where the priest who hears the information is not required to pass it on because it's purely confidential. This report is calling for that information to be in line with all other mandatory reporting where a person is required, at risk of criminal charges to report it to the authorities.
>> More than 8,000 victims came forward with their stories for the report. Making for one of the world's biggest investigations into child abuse. Beginning half a decade ago after huge public pressure.>> There was a state inquiry in Victoria which had some pretty alarming evidence and itself had some pretty astonishing recommendations at the end of that.
Then a couple of cases emerged around New South Wales, the neighboring state and that led to the Prime Minister of the day which was Julia Gaillard to simply say. We need to do a national enquiry into this.>> After the report, one of the country's top catholics gave a warning.
Melvin's Archbishop says, any priest breaking the seal of confession will be excommunicated. These suggestions in the report are now under review by Australia which has promised to respond in full by next year.