Abuse victims wait to hear
The Ballarat Courier
13th July 2012
Updated 18th July 2012
VICTIMS of sexual abuse by members of religious and other organisations are yet to learn if a parliamentary inquiry into the issue will hold hearings in Ballarat.
A 12-month inquiry announced in April is likely to hear details of abuse by clergy in Ballarat, including assaults committed by convicted Christian Brother Robert Charles Best and other staff members at St Alipius Christian Brothers school in the 1960s and 1970s.
The inquiry was announced after a leaked police report claimed there were as many as 40 suicides stemming from sexual abuse in the Ballarat region.
On Thursday, the Victorian Parliament’s Family and Community Development Committee released a public submissions guide, following the opening of submissions on June 18.
The guide confirms that public hearings will be held from September, but none of the bipartisan committee’s six members responded to requests for comment about potential Ballarat hearings yesterday.
Staff members for committee chair and Liberal MP for the Southern Metropolitan region Georgie Crozier said she was unavailable for comment while Family and Community Development Committee staffers did not return calls.
The guidelines show the handling of complaints will be the committee’s main focus, rather than compensating victims.
“In undertaking the inquiry, the committee has been asked not to impinge on the responsibilities of police or the courts in relation to particular cases or prejudice the conduct or outcome of investigations or court proceedings,” the document says
“Parliamentary committees do not have a role in investigating criminal matters.”
The committee will consider the response of all religions and denominations and non-government organisations providing child-related services or activities.
Written and oral evidence can be received on a confidential basis where agreed to by the committee, the guidelines say.
Victim support groups including the Broken Rites organisation have previously called for hearings to be held in regional communities worst affected by abuse including Ballarat, Portland and Mildura.