By NICOLE MILLS
GEELONG ADVERTISER | SEPTEMBER 28
A Geelong woman leading the fight for compensation for those who were neglected and abused in orphanages, children’s homes, foster care and mental institutions has called on new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to take action.
Leonie Sheedy, who heads the Care Leavers Australia Network, has called on Mr Turnbull to deliver a national compensation scheme for the many thousands of people who suffered all forms of abuse during their childhood in care.
She said Mr Turnbull, a parliamentary patron of CLAN, now had the opportunity to expand a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to provide compensation to victims of other types of abuse.
“The royal commission has recommended a national redress scheme for victims of child sexual abuse be established by the Federal Government and largely funded by the institutions in which the abuse occurred,” Ms Sheedy said.
“But CLAN believes all forms of abuse suffered by children in Australian institutions should be compensated by a national independent redress scheme. We know there is more than one way to harm a child.”
Ms Sheedy, who grew up in a Geelong orphanage with her brother, said the region had a large number of institutions where abuse occurred.
“This happened in every town in Australia that had an orphanage, but Geelong had more orphanages than any town outside a capital city — that’s Geelong and district,” she said.
“Children were farmed out to ‘good Catholic families’ in the Western District, like farmers, and we were exploited and made to do a lot of domestic work and farm work.
“We are different from those who were sexually abused by the clergy. We couldn’t walk out of an orphanage and report it to the police and we couldn’t report it to our parents. We deserve compensation for all forms of abuse.”
Ms Sheedy said Mr Turnbull had visited CLAN’s National Orphanage Museum in Bankstown, Sydney, and seen the tragic remnants of young lives damaged beyond repair.
“Now is the time for the Australian Government to establish a national independent redress scheme that restores dignity and respect to the thousands of Australians who were not believed and not protected as children,” Ms Sheedy said. “Time is running out for many care leavers and we encourage Mr Turnbull to establish a national independent redress scheme as a matter of urgency.”
The Geelong Advertiser was unable to contact Mr Turnbull’s office on Sunday.
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