Child sex abuse survivors cried, yelled and clapped with raw emotion as they received a historic national apology for the pain inflicted upon them.
"I believe you, we believe you, your country believes you," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament on Monday.
He then read the official apology to survivors and their families, who gathered in Parliament's Great Hall with a mix of sadness, anger and relief.
"What happened was not your fault," Mr Morrison said.
The apology evoked mixed feelings from survivors and their supporters, most of whom welcomed the sentiment but called for much more to be done.
Rick Venero was abused at a Marist Brothers school in Sydney, and he now wants action taken against institutions who protected pedophiles.
"(The apology) meant a great deal. It's fantastic to get that from the Australian people," Mr Venero told AAP in Canberra.
"(But) it's pretty shattering actually, to come here and everyone's behind it, and the power of these institutions means that nothing's really happening."
One man, who asked not to be named, whose schoolfriends were abused by a Catholic priest, said the apology had come too late.
"Some people are going to be haunted by it forever," he said after watching the broadcast at a ceremony in Melbourne.
"Some people have already killed themselves."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Australia had failed tens of thousands of children, across generations.
"The words of this apology must come with action," Mr Shorten said.
"It is not the time for government or institutions to haggle over the dollars, to hide behind the lawyers."
Mr Morrison said it was a day to confront key questions: "Why weren't the children of our nation loved, nurtured and protected? Why was their trust betrayed?"
The two leaders held hands with apology reference group chair Cheryl Edwardes as Mr Morrison read the official apology out loud for the first time.
Mr Morrison paid tribute to Julia Gillard for setting up the child abuse royal commission, and the former Labor prime minister attracted standing ovations from survivors.
"It took many years to get to this moment but we are only at it, not because of me, but because of you," Ms Gillard said to strong applause.
Ms Gillard sat in the House of Representatives gallery next to campaigner Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest.
The child abuse royal commission heard from 17,000 survivors and made 122 recommendations to the government.
To date, the government has rolled out a national redress scheme, with a new office of child safety to report to the prime minister.
Mr Morrison also announced a National Centre for Excellence to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse, and a national museum.
He and Mr Shorten also agreed to cancel question time for Monday out of respect to the survivors.
From December the government will report each year for the next five years, and then again in 10 years' time, on the progress of the recommendations.
"We can never promise a world where there are no abusers. But we can promise a country where we commit to hear and believe our children," Mr Morrison said.
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