The historic Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will begin in the Victorian County Court in Melbourne today.

The commission will look at religious organisations, state care providers, not-for-profit bodies, as well as child service agencies and police forces and what can be done so that the victims have justice.

The commission's chairman, Justice Peter McClellan, will today provide information on how future private and public hearings will be conducted.

The senior counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, will also deliver an opening statement.

Victims and witnesses will not take part in today's proceedings.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard , a week after explosive allegations made by a senior detective in the NSW police force.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox alleged in an interview with Lateline last year that the Catholic Church hierarchy protects paedophile priests, silences investigations and destroys critical evidence to avoid prosecution.

But Chief Inspector Fox has told the ABC's 7.30 program that NSW Police have informed him .

He says that decision leaves him open to litigation.

The commission is set to run until December 2015 and has been compared to a similar inquiry in Ireland, which lasted a decade.

The Government is due to deliver an interim report by the middle of next year.

Many people are hoping the scale of abuse will be revealed today, while there are reports the commission is struggling to deal with the amount of people wanting to give evidence.

Abuse survivor Stephen Woods told Lateline he expects the scale of the investigations to be "massive".

"There's so much information, there's so much crime, there's so many people who want to talk about their pain, and we're talking about pains of thousands of people - it's going to be massive," he said.

Even before the first hearings there appear to be problems with victims trying to tell their stories.

Support groups say parts of the referral process for victims are shambolic.

Abuse victim Nicky Davis from the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says victims will find it difficult to submit their stories to the commission.

"I think expecting people to go to the commission's website, particularly these very traumatised people, may be asking a little too much," she said.

"There might need to be some public awareness advertisements as well, but it needs to be very, very clear and simple.

"It's very hard to do that final step to submit it. It's really tough even though I'm very familiar now with telling my story it's hard and you can't underestimate how hard it's going to be for people."

One widely anticipated outcome is the mandatory reporting of abuse allegations.

Mr Woods says that needs to happen as soon as possible.

"It has to be even initiated before the royal commission is finished because there's so many things that are being done now and there's so many paedophiles who are dying now, and there are so many victims who are still dying, that mandatory reporting has to come in straight away," he said.

 

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