Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the creation of a national royal commission into institutional responses to instances of child sexual abuse.
The decision was taken at a meeting of federal cabinet this afternoon.
Ms Gillard had been under pressure to act following growing calls for a national inquiry into explosive allegations by a senior New South Wales police investigator that the Catholic Church covered up evidence involving paedophile priests.
A number of senior Labor MPs, as well as key independents, had already voiced their support for action on a national scale.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also declared his support for a "wide-ranging" royal commission into child sex abuse but said it should not just focus on claims involving the Catholic Church.