Parents respond to probe

AS THE final bell tolled across Melbourne's Catholic schools yesterday, parents were digesting the emerging details of the federal government's sweeping royal commission into child abuse from the clergy and other organisations.

One mother outside South Melbourne's Galilee Regional Catholic School was quick to defend her faith, saying it was not just Catholics who were responsible and the abuse was more widespread in the community.

Indeed, that's what the royal commission aims to uncover, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard announcing it would not only probe the clergy but also state authorities, boy scouts and sports groups.

Australia's most senior Catholic Cardinal George Pell welcomed the royal commission and said it would separate fact from fiction, hitting out at ''exaggeration'' and ''smears'' against the church over alleged cover-ups of child sexual abuse.

Some parents outside St Columba's Primary School in Elwood were happy to talk to Fairfax Media but declined to comment on the record. But one mother, Angela Wasley, was happy to be named. Her response was primal as much as maternal when asked her thoughts about the royal commission.

''If it's about protecting the children, I'm all behind it because they are innocent and it's up to us [as] parents to protect the innocent,'' Ms Wasley said. She had witnessed a similar inquiry in her native Ireland, she said, which took nine years.

This story Parents respond to probe first appeared on The Age.