Churches and charities should pay compensation directly to survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and the terms of reference should be broadened, says the chief executive of the group of those formerly in child institutions.
The six royal commissioners examining past sexual abuse of children in institutional and organisational settings will meet for the first time on Wednesday.
But, said chief executive of Care Leavers Australia Network Leonie Sheedy, who represents about 1000 people who spent time as children in homes, orphanages and other institutions, many were shattered that physical abuse, neglect, forced and unpaid work and other forms of abuse would not be investigated by the commission.
''How do I tell the members of CLAN that were left dangling over orphanage balconies and never knew whether they were going to be dropped on their heads, and that they'd live or die, how can I tell them that, well, sorry, if you'd have been sodomised, they'd be interested? But that sort of torture's not covered.''
Announcing the terms of reference for the royal commission on Friday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard made plain it would not deal with child sexual abuse within families, or with other forms of child abuse.
''Of course physical mistreatment, neglect, are very evil things,'' Ms Gillard said. ''Anything that stops a child having a safe and happy childhood is an evil thing.
''But we've needed to make some decisions about what makes this a process that can be manageable and can be worked through in a time frame that gives the recommendations real meaning.''
Of immediate concern to Ms Sheedy is that $50,000 in short-term federal funding to help the organisation compile victims' complaints will run out at the end of next month.
''Nothing has been discussed with us as an organisation, but that's fair enough - the government's been busy. But we say the churches and charities need to step up and the government has to say: 'You need to step up, to the reparations fund because these crimes occurred on your turf'. There'll never be enough money to replace a lost childhood and family, but to do nothing is just shameful.''
Lawyer Judy Courtin helped more than 20 victims draft their group submission to the Victorian inquiry into child abuse. She said a large proportion of the royal commission's resources for victims should be used for specialised help with submissions. Ms Courtin said most victims needed help because recalling painful memories could ''re-traumatise'' them. ''Having someone else guiding and supporting them … means they'll get a lot more into the submission,'' she said.
Many victims had been physically and sexually abused in school settings, when handing in homework, which made filling out documents for the state inquiry particularly difficult.
Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the government would offer financial help to organisations supporting those giving evidence to the commission.