THE message from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse could not have been more clear about the greatest risk to children within institutions - and for that matter within families - tasked with their care.
If the protection of children is not the number one priority, children are at risk.
As the Australian community saw through five dreadful years of evidence from adults who had been sexually abused in the past, crimes occurred in organisations where other issues were prioritised.
They occurred where individuals prioritised matters that should have been completely irrelevant, such as the status of the organisation, personal ambition, a personal aversion to dealing with difficult issues, loyalty to mates or being in the thrall of a churchman.
Institutions that emerged from the royal commission with very damaged reputations, such as the Catholic Church, had systems that contributed to crimes against children occurring over decades. Lack of transparency. Secrecy. Hypocrisy. An underlying foundational need to avoid scandal. Lack of accountability.
The royal commission's final report made hundreds of recommendations in keeping with the earnest desire of so many abuse survivors - that no child should experience what they had experienced. Those recommendations included governance issues - putting in place within institutions a framework based on clear lines of responsibility, transparency, accountability.
So it is disheartening, in the Hunter in particular which played such a key role in the establishment of the royal commission, to see evidence that when it comes to NSW public schools and special religious education, there are still real problems in applying the lessons from the royal commission.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion the politics of scripture in schools is being prioritised over basic child protection principles, based on responses to complaints of breaches of the Department of Education's own guidelines for scripture.
An audit of Hunter and Central Coast schools conducted by a parents' group, Fairness in Religions in School (FIRIS), shows too many schools not following department guidelines in advising parents about scripture, scripture enrolments, scripture providers, alternatives to scripture and scripture materials.
A general lack of transparency about scripture in public schools is one of the key issues, and flows from legislation denying the Department of Education and the Education Minister the right to approve scripture material, or access to schools.
That legislative power given to religious groups is the reason why scripture has been a political issue for years, and will remain so for this NSW Coalition Government as it deals with internal challenges from a conservative religious "base".