A five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia released its final report on Friday with 1,300 witness accounts and over 8,000 harrowing stories from survivors.
The royal commission uncovered harrowing evidence of sexual abuse within institutions, including churches, schools and sports clubs, reports the BBC.
Since 2013, it has referred more than 2,500 allegations to authorities.
The final report added 189 recommendations to 220 that had already been made public.
“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number.
“Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions… It is not a case of a few ‘rotten apples’. Society’s major institutions have seriously failed,” its added.
Religious ministers and school teachers were the most commonly reported perpetrators and the greatest number of alleged perpetrators and abused children were in Catholic institutions, the report said.
The commission had previously recommended that Catholic clerics should face criminal charges if they fail to report sexual abuse disclosed to them during confession.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned the findings and said: “It is an outstanding exercise in love, and I thank the commissioners and those who have the courage to tell their stories – thank you very much.”
The proposals will now be considered by legislators, the BBC reported.
The royal commission, Australia’s highest form of public inquiry, had been contacted by more than 15,000 people, including relatives and friends of abuse victims.
More than 8,000 victims told their stories, many for the first time, in private sessions with commissioners.
The inquiry also received more than 1,300 written accounts, and held 57 public hearings across the nation.
Royal commission chair Peter McClellan said that the second version of the report will be published once all the criminal proceedings are completed.
The royal commission was established at the end of 2012 by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
It has over the years made a series of recommendations on how to compensate victims as well as background checks on persons working with minors and proposed more severe punishment for abusers.