National News

PM urges survivor support as Pell jailed

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Australians to support survivors of child sexual abuse, as the nation absorbs the sentencing of George Pell for crimes against two choirboys.

The Roman Catholic cardinal was sentenced to a maximum of six years, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months, on Wednesday in Melbourne.

He had been convicted of five offences, including the oral rape of a 13-year-old choirboy, committed in the 1990s.

"I would just ask Australians today to get around those who have been victims of child sexual abuse," Mr Morrison told reporters ahead of the verdict.

"Let them know we know it happened, that we want to help you be stronger and to survive what is the most abominable you could think that could happen to an individual with a breach of trust.

"For me, it's about those against who this abuse was directed and acted upon. It's the most abhorrent thing I can think of."

Pell, who was until late-February the Vatican's treasurer, is the highest-ranking Catholic in the world to be convicted of child sexual abuse.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said his thoughts were with Australians for whom the case reawakened old traumas.

"We can never underestimate the courage and resilience it takes for a survivor of child abuse to seek justice," he said in a statement after the sentencing.

He said the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed the cold hard truth that survivors were seldom believed.

"Instead, against the weight and power of both church and the state, they were marginalised, shamed and re-abused," the opposition leader said.

Mr Shorten called for faster progress on national redress for survivors, urging all institutions to sign up immediately.

Independent senator Derryn Hinch described County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd's sentencing remarks as erudite, forensic, dispassionate and clinical.

"Judge saw right through him," Senator Hinch tweeted.

"After decades of Pell stories in Geelong, Ballarat and Melbourne, I can't be the only one sitting here today and thinking: They finally got him, Pell is behind bars. And he's on the (offenders) register - banned from going to Rome for life."

© AAP 2019