PM announces Royal Commission
Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces a Royal Commission to investigate decades of child abuse in churches, schools and foster homes.PT0M25S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29880 620 349 November 12, 2012
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VICTIMS of clergy sex abuse were elated, and some wept tears of joy, at the news there will be a royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse.
It's important to remember them - they suffered terribly - and it's also about the ones who never made it.
Even the Catholic Church in Australia supported the announcement - saying the bishops shared ''the feelings of horror and outrage which all decent people feel when they read the reports of sexual abuse and allegations of cover-up'' - but denying there was a systemic problem in the church.
Consultant Helen Last (centre) with abuse survivors Catherine Arthur and Noreen Wood. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
Nicky Davis, spokeswoman for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) said victims were ''completely overjoyed''.
''There will be mixed emotions as well, because it brings up that our voice has been suppressed for so long and we've been abandoned, but it's a joyous day,'' Ms Davis said.
She said that as she listened to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, ''between sobs, I didn't hear anything I disagreed with. But it's important to consult victims about the terms of reference so that the commission goes to the core issues, and also look at international best practice.''
She said victims had fought for this for decades, and in the early days had been utterly dismissed.
''It's important to remember them - they suffered terribly - and it's also about the ones who never made it.''
Lawyer Viv Waller, who is acting for dozens of abuse victims in Ballarat, said she was excited and elated.
''It restores the community's confidence and faith in the democratic process and the separation of church and state,'' she said.
''It's a great relief to my clients that, contrary to the way it has behaved over the years, the Church is not above the law.''
Advocate and author Chrissie Foster, two of whose daughters were appallingly abused, said she was blown away. ''Justice has been denied so far. We've been telling our story for 16 years. It goes out there, and nothing happens.''
She said the Victorian parliamentary inquiry was a step in the
right direction, ''but this is what we need''.
Survivor Noreen Wood said: ''The victims have always believed that eventually the gates of hell would open up and swallow abusers. At last, the truth can come out.''
Catherine Arthur, who was abused first as a nine-year-old girl, then as an adult nun, said she was delighted. She was grateful to the Victorian government for setting up the state inquiry, which no doubt influenced the Prime Minister.
Helen Last, of In Good Faith, a consultant to the Melbourne Victims Collective who gave evidence at the Victorian inquiry on Monday, said victims were delighted that the federal government has listened to their concerns, and looked forward to their day before the commission.
Broken Rites spokesman Bernard Barrett welcomed a national royal commission, ''provided that the focus is on the cover-up''.
The Church statement said it had taken decisive steps in the past 20 years to make child safety a priority and help victims.
''Much of the public discussion is about how the Church dealt with cases 20 or more years ago. Critics talk as though earlier failures are still prevalent.
''It is unjust and inappropriate to suggest crimes are being - or have been - committed, without producing evidence; without asking those accused for their responses before making generalised slurs.''