Royal Commission to shed light on reality of child sex abuse

THE much-anticipated Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will hold its first hearing on Wednesday.

Justice Peter McClellan, who is chairing the inquiry, will outline the work of the Royal Commission, while senior counsel assisting will deliver an opening address.

No evidence will be taken during the hearing, which is being held in Melbourne.

All six commissioners will be present for the hearing.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard bowed to growing pressure and established the royal commission late last year.

It came after a NSW police officer raised allegations the Catholic Church had covered up evidence to protect pedophile priests.

"The allegations that have come to light recently about child sexual abuse have been heartbreaking," Ms Gillard said in November.

"These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject."

The royal commission will issue its initial report within 18 months, including any early recommendations.