Canberra - Scouts Australia has apologised "unreservedly" to those who suffered sexual abuse as children at the hands of members of the organization.
Phil Harrison, chief commissioner for Scouts Australia, said the apology was part of a commitment to acknowledge and address the harm some of its members suffered within the organization.
"We failed you and we apologize for the pain that this has caused."
A five-year-long Royal Commission inquiry into child sexual abuse, which concluded in December, found that tens of thousands of children had been sexually abused between 1960 and 2015 in various Australian institutions, including schools, churches and other organizations.
It noted that the Scouts movement in Australia had "a long history" of such allegations and said a lot of work was left to be done to respond to the victims.
The inquiry did not mention how many boys and girls in the Scouts were allegedly abused, but said, of the 408 survivors who spoke to the commission, about one-third reported being abused by Scout leaders.
According to Scouts 2016 child protection policy, leaders must update their child safety training every three years and can never be alone with a youth member.
This is the first time the organization has made a public apology.
Harrison said senior members of the organization have already met with survivors around Australia and made personal apologies.
"It's a genuine and heartfelt admission that, for some young people, their time in scouting was a negative experience, and we are truly sorry for this," he said in a statement.
But lawyers representing some of the victims said the apology was meaningless if not matched by action. They said survivors seeking compensation for abuse and harm caused need assistance.
Danielle De Paoli, a lawyer with Maurice Blackburn, said the apology was not being matched by genuine action, especially by Scouts New South Wales, a group whose members "stand out amongst institutional defendants for their appalling and heartless conduct towards survivors."
In his message, Harrison urged people to remember the good that Scouts have done in the past, while acknowledging failures.
The 110-year-old Scouts Australia has made a "positive contribution" to the development of more than 2 million young Australians, Harrison said in a video posted on the group's website on Friday.
"However, for some of you, this was not a positive experience and you have suffered."
"We apologise for not listening when some of you shared your stories with adults in scouting whom you trusted," he said.
Scouts Australia has signed on to the 10-year national redress scheme, one of the inquiry's recommendations. The scheme was rolled out by the government in July,for the survivors, who will be able to seek compensation from the institutions where the offences took place.