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'They failed miserably': Survivors' group calls for action after royal commission's findings

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December 15th, 2017 | Jarni Bakkarly | SBS Australia

 

A support group for survivors of sexual abuse says there are mixed emotions as the final report is handed down by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Care Leavers Australia Network chief executive Leonie Sheedy told SBS News the end of the royal commission was like "losing a really nice aunty or uncle".

"There are very mixed feelings amongst care leavers and survivors ... there will be a sense of abandonment because the royal commissions has truly supported care leavers and their families," she said.

"I think there is a sense of sadness because many of the survivor’s brothers and sisters died without telling the royal commission their story.  

"But there is also a sense of elation, the nation can never say they didn't know what happened to children in care, in orphanages and institutions."

Ms Sheedy said all of the royal commissions 400 recommendations, 189 of which were handed down on Friday, must be adopted.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the government would establish a parliamentary committee chaired by crossbench senator Derryn Hinch, which will oversee redress-related recommendations.

Stephen Wood, who grew up in Ballarat and was abused by multiple Christian Brothers including Gerald Ridsdale, said the Commission had given victims a voice.

"The royal commission has given so many victims a voice and given so many families hope to find out why their children's lives were destroyed," he said. 

Mr Wood said the Commission had ended years of silence from the church and authorities on the issue of abuse. 

"The royal commission came along and it was just incredible, a damn burst the momentum was just too much for the government to ignore," he said.

Mr Wood said he hoped the royal commission's findings would prompt politicians to act.

"Now the politicians know what to work on, now they know what to do. They have been given an outline and it's now up to the politicians to act," Mr Wood told SBS News.

Mr Wood's brother, who was also abused, committed suicide in 1990.

"So many have died and they didn't hear the successes that we've had so far. They didn't see that light at the end of the tunnel that the royal commission has given us," Mr Wood said.

Mr Wood said the royal commission had been a "long journey".

"It's really painful to dig up all those memories you squashed over the years, to remember those intimate details," he said.

"It's painful it really hurts, it's just pain. Your whole being has been altered and hurt and to relive those it's just layering the pain on you."

Mr Wood said his brother's life "spiralled out of control" before his death and it was hard "to see my parents go to their graves feeling they had let us down".

"But it wasn’t them that had let us down it was the authorities that had let us down," he said.

Ms Sheedy said churches and other organisations that did not fully adopt the royal commission's recommendations should have their charity status revoked.

"We are sick of the feather, now has to come the big stick to those organisations. They had a duty of care to us and they failed miserably," she said

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78, or visit Multicultural Mental Health Australia at www.mmha.org.au and Local Aboriginal Medical Service details are available from www.bettertoknow.org.au/AMS.

 

To view this article on the SBS Australia website 'Click Here'


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