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Scouts Australia apologise for child abuse

SCOUTS Australia has apologised to those who were sexually abused as children by members of its organisation.

The apology is part of Scouts Australia's commitment to acknowledge and address the harm some members suffered and comes in the wake of the child abuse royal commission.

Chief Commissioner Phil Harrison said the "genuine and heartfelt" apology was being made on behalf of all state and territory scout branches.

"We apologise unreservedly to those who suffered abuse during their time in scouting," Mr Harrison said.

"We failed you and we apologise for the pain that this has caused.

"Scouts Australia has a responsibility to survivors of abuse and we will honour that."

Scouts Australia has signed on to a national redress scheme, to compensate and make amends to survivors, that came into force on July 1.

Senior members of the organisation have met with survivors around Australia and made personal apologies, Commissioner Harrison said in a video posted on its website on Friday.

"We are willing to meet with anyone else who wishes to meet with us," he added.

"We apologise for not listening when some of you shared your stories with adults in Scouting who you trusted."

Scouts Australia, which is 110 years old, has contributed to the development of more than two million young Australians, Commissioner Harrison said.

"However, for some of you this was not a positive experience and you have suffered."

It comes after Australia's Catholic leaders vowed to end the cover-up of child sexual abuse but steadfastly refused to break the seal of confession, even if it meant priests could face criminal charges.

The Catholic Church gave its official response to the royal commission into child abuse in August, accepting 98 per cent of the recommendations.

However it did not accept the proposed removal of priest-penitent privilege and breaking the confessional seal.

"Refusing to remove the seal of confession is not because we regard ourselves as being above the law or because we don't value the safety of children as supremely important.," Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

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