Support for church sex child abuse royal commission
30th October 2012
30th October 2012
A VICTORIAN lawyer specialising in child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy has slammed the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse in churches and supported the Herald’s Shine the Light campaign for a royal commission.
The Victorian inquiry was completely inadequate, insulting to victims and their families and a whitewash, Judy Courtin said.
‘‘The only good thing about it is that the strength of the submissions has exposed the Catholic church to real scrutiny for the first time in Australia, and it is now very obvious that a royal commission is the only way of dealing with the problem.
‘‘That’s why it’s great that in NSW you’ve called for a royal commission right from the start.’’
Ms Courtin was at the inquiry last week when Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton delivered damning evidence of abuse against children for more than 50 years, and a pattern of obstruction by church hierarchy that included hiding documents from warrants, moving offenders and discouraging victims from reporting to police.
Ms Courtin said the gallery cheered after Mr Ashton’s presentation, as a public meeting of more than 400 people in Newcastle in September cheered Hunter Chief Inspector Peter Fox when he said Premier Barry O’Farrell was wrong to say police had ‘‘it all under control’’.
Ms Courtin criticised an inquiry with a majority of government MPs, no lawyers and a retired senior judge acting as adviser, who is forced to sit in the gallery through the hearings.
Material was not tested or investigated, and questions from at least one MP were ‘‘clearly from the Catholic handbook’’.
Hundreds of submissions from victims had not been placed on the inquiry website, and the parliamentary committee had given no indication what would happen with them.
‘‘It is insulting to people who had their expectations raised and trusted the process enough to make submissions, not to deal with those submissions respectfully,’’ Ms Courtin said.
She has asked the committee if it has ordered the Catholic church to hand over all documents relating to sexual abuse, after advice it had the power to do so.
‘‘The best thing the Victorian inquiry could do would be to follow the recommendations of most of the people who have so far appeared before it, and that’s to call for a royal commission,’’ Ms Courtin said.
She will speak at a public meeting in Sydney today which is a follow-up meeting to the Herald’s September 16 Shine the Light event.
Comment from CLAN:
Thank you Judy for speaking out about the current Victorian Government Clayton's Inquiry. I too witnessed the cheering in the gallery at long last someone cared about the children who were sexually used.
While the terms of inquiry excludes children who were sexually used in VIC Government run orphanages and childrens Homes, this inquiry is a farce.
CLAN a national support and advocacy network for people raised in Australia's orphanages and Homes and is calling for a federal Royal Commission.
Our members want their voices and stories to be heard by a Royal Commission.