John Pirona’s death was the catalyst for a royal commission

Newcastle Herald

31 Jul 2016

FOUR years ago the suicide of Belmont North child sexual abuse victim John Pirona was the catalyst for a royal commission.

On Tuesday the first of back-to-back Hunter public hearings into the Anglican and Catholic churches starts – the 42nd and 43rd hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

It has held more than 5500 private sessions with survivors, taken more than 31,000 calls and received more than 18,000 letters and emails. It has referred more than 1600 matters to authorities including the police, leading to prosecutions and investigations across Australia.

The royal commission has funded 24 research projects relating to institutional child sexual abuse in Australia, including how juries assess information during trials, the response of specialist police investigation units to child sexual abuse, the use of evidence during child sex trials, sentencing issues, mandatory reporting laws and specialist prosecution units and courts.

The royal commission has recommended a national redress scheme for abuse survivors that is estimated to cost more than $4 billion, with institutions contributing the bulk of the money.

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