Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff wants past child sex abuse by Tasmanian teachers investigated and is urging people with information to contact authorities.
Mr Rockliff has so far stopped short of committing to a formal investigation of the Education Department's past practice of moving actual or suspected paedophile teachers from school to school or job to job when concerns were raised.
Among those calling for an inquiry into or investigation of the department's past practices are:
- Tasmanian Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor;
- former Labor state minister and child safety advocate Allison Ritchie; and
- lawyer Sebastian Buscemi, who says the department protected at least two child molesting teachers (both convicted and jailed) and possibly at least 10.
In response to a call for an investigation by Ms O'Connor, Mr Rockliff said the state had taken part in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the government was implementing all 409 of its recommendations.
'OPEN TO AVENUES'
"As Minister for Education, of course I would be open to exploring other avenues that would ensure justice and closure," he said.
"If anyone is aware of historical child sexual abuse cases then they should come forward so they can be investigated."
Ms O'Connor said the Education Department had "never fully explained its historical wrongs that left vulnerable children prey to paedophile teachers who were moved from school to school".
"Regrettably, it was not investigated by the Royal Commission into Institutionalised Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
"The survivors and their families have received no justice or closure."
'A TERRIBLE WRONG'
Ms O'Connor said it was not enough to say the historical wrongs would be dealt with through the redress scheme.
"The department was complicit in a terrible wrong and, although these crimes are historical, reparation and a public apology are required," she said.
"In the first instance, we believe the Minister for Education should commit to an open and honest independent investigation, with the results to be made public."
Labor's Shadow Attorney-General, Ella Haddad, said: "It is tragic that sexual abuse like this seems to have been so widespread across many institutions and that state schools were no exception to this."
"Survivors of this heinous abuse deserve for the truth to be uncovered and acknowledged and, where wrongdoing occurred, redress should be provided."
'POSITION OF TRUST'
Mr Rockliff said the government had paid close attention to the royal commission and implemented recommendations such as registration to work with vulnerable children as they were handed down.
"Tasmanian victims and survivors told their stories to the RCIRCSA," he said.
"From the RCIRCSA, we have learned of the mistakes of the past and, from its recommendations, the path we need to take to keep children safe.
"The Tasmanian government, in supporting the national apology, acknowledges the harm suffered by victims and survivors."
He said the government's thoughts were with people who had been harmed by child sexual abuse.
"People such as teachers are in a position of trust and it is important that the checks are in place to ensure that trust isn't abused in any way," he said.
"I would encourage anyone who is aware of any instances of child sexual abuse to raise this with the relevant authorities so any such matters can be investigated."
He said the government was working hard to implement the royal commission's regulations to keep children safe.
"Many Tasmanian victims and survivors had the opportunity and did share their stories with the RCIRCSA," he said.
"It is important to note that the royal commission recognised and operated on the basis that no victims should be forced to participate in public inquiries if they did not wish to do so.
"In so doing, the royal commission recognised the significant risk of re-traumatising victims and survivors of abuse and respected their decisions.
"Many victims chose to provide their stories to the royal commission in private sessions to maintain their privacy."
Mr Rockliff said the government had undertaken significant reforms to civil litigation and criminal reforms, along with work by government agencies to ensure their practices and policies protected children from abuse.
He said former premier Will Hodgman apologised for the failing of the government to protect children from child abuse in government institutions.
"We are unable to comment on individual cases for privacy reasons and many of these matters are being addressed through the National Redress Scheme or other legal proceedings," he said.
"Requests for information from lawyers acting for victims and survivors are processed quickly by (the department).
"The department cooperates fully with police to assist with their inquiries in respect of historical sexual assault matters and has processes in place for the management and investigation of any new allegations that are raised."