Abuse inquiry not enough
28th September 2012
Updated 2nd October 2012
CARE Leavers Australia Network wants a state inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations to become a prelude to a Royal Commission.
Executive officer Leonie Sheedy, who attended Geelong's St Catherine's orphanage, said the inquiry was welcome, but needed to reach further to the testimonies of many thousands of lives fractured by abuse in state care.
"Yes it is a significant step, but if you're going to exclude people raised in State Government homes in Victoria, who is going to listen to their voices?" Mrs Sheedy said.
Advocates believe more than 500 people in the Geelong region have suffered sexual, physical and psychological abuse at the hands of religious and other organisations across decades.
The number of orphanages and schools run by the same organisations have contributed to the record of abuse.
More than 25 people from across the region have come forward in the past fortnight to make submissions to the inquiry and advocates were in Geelong yesterday to help them through the process.
Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) has lodged a 41-page submission to the State Government inquiry, laying bare graphic accounts of sexual, physical and psychological abuse from inside religious and state care institutions.
Its recommendations call for a Royal Commission into abuse at all Victorian orphanages, children's homes and institutions, an open-ended reparation scheme for all care leavers, that churches financially contribute to reparation schemes and that care leavers receive payment for unpaid work they were forced to complete as children on farms and in orphanages.
The submission says believing that Victorian care leavers had adequately told their story through a 2004 Senate inquiry was "laughable".
CLAN's submission urged members of the inquiry committee to be aware of the responsibility they held.
"For each of you on this committee, ask yourself the following question: If any of the examples we have mentioned in this submission had been done to you in your childhood or if they had been committed against your children, how would you feel?" it says.
"How would you seek justice?"