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South Australia to compel priests to report abuse revealed in confession

South Australia will become the first state to legally compel clergy to report child sexual abuse revealed in confession, as the state’s attorney general, Vickie Chapman, urges others to follow suit.

Under new laws set to take effect in October, priests who hear confessions about child abuse will have a mandatory obligation to report the matter to police.

The state will become the first to adopt a royal commission recommendation to remove the exemption from mandatory reporting for priests hearing confession.

The acting Archbishop of Adelaide, Greg O’Kelly, said the church was “unaware of this change” until today “and the implications are now being considered”, according to the ABC.

The federal attorney general, Christian Porter, said on Wednesday all states and territories will be urged to adopt similar law changes as part of the national response to the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Chapman urged other states to take similar steps.

“These are state-based responsibilities, law and order are state-based jurisdictions,” she said on Thursday.

“We worked with the former government [after] our royal commissions, both Nyland and Mullighan, to deal with this issue, and took note when we received the interim reports of the national royal commission.”

Chapman said the state government was responsible for 104 of a total 189 recommendations of the royal commission.

Of the 104, 66 were accepted, one rejected and a further 37 were still being considered.

“It’s critical that the terrible legacy of child sexual abuse is addressed with a comprehensive suite of policies at both the federal and state level,” Chapman said.

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