Orphans heartened by PM vow
22nd October 2012
23rd October 2012
ORPHANS who were abused in state care in Australia have taken heart from a fresh pledge by the Gillard government to consider their calls for a royal commission.
Families Minister Jenny Macklin wrote to the Care Leavers Australia Network last week after the group, which represented former state wards, bombarded Julia Gillard with thousands of postcards calling for the inquiry.
"As you are aware, the Prime Minister has recently received many such letters arguing the need for a royal commission to achieve justice for forgotten Australians and former child migrants," Ms Macklin wrote.
"The Prime Minister has asked me to give close and careful consideration to the issues raised through this strong advocacy effort."
A spokeswoman for Ms Macklin declined to comment further yesterday, but CLAN co-founder Leonie Sheedy said it was the strongest indication yet that the government might bend to calls for a royal commission into the abuse.
"We all know terrible crimes were committed against children in care," she said. "This country needs to address these injustices.
"Australia needs to face up and they need to make reparations."
While Kevin Rudd made a national apology in 2009 to the forgotten Australians who endured physical, sexual and emotional abuse in state and charitable-run orphanages, compensation has been left to individual states.
Redress schemes for people who were abused in state care have been introduced in Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, with some assistance also available in South Australia.
Government-run homes have been excluded from the purview of the Victorian parliamentary committee now examining child sex abuse among religious and other non-government organisations, reigniting CLAN's campaign for a royal commission.
"I know royal commissions are very expensive," Ms Sheedy said. "They only implement a royal commission when they know what the outcome will be.
"I won't be giving up, and neither will CLAN."
The Baillieu government has faced widespread criticism for choosing a parliamentary committee with limited resources to investigate the Catholic Church's response to sexual abuse of children, along with other religious groups, over a royal commission.
The committee hearings will resume today with evidence from the Victorian Department of Human Services and psychologist and former Catholic priest Des Cahill. In a written submission, Professor Cahill has said the church alone was incapable of taking the necessary steps to resolve abuse allegations and the state government should intervene in its policies and practices.
CLAN News Flash