Two words ease pain for victim
For Margaret Turnbull, who was sexually abused by both a prist and a nun while in institutions as a child, there were just two words from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology yesterday that really resonated: “I’m sorry”.
“It makes me feel good; it makes me feel better. Somebody actually believes me,” Ms Turnbull said.
Ms Turnbull was one of more than 50 people who gathered at South Melbourne’s MackKillop Family Services, the former St Vincent’s Boys’ Home, to hear Mr Rudd say sorry to the estimated 500,000 placed in institutions as children, many of whom were physically, mentally and sexually abused.
While those attending the apology in Canberra erupted often into bouts of jubilant applause, the Forgotten Australians gathered in Melbourne were quiet, almost spellbound as they watched Mr Rudd on a large projector screen.
Ms Turnbull was placed in care when she was five, sexually abused from the age of 10 by a priest and “physically, sexually and mentally abused” by a nun at the age of 15. She attempted suicide after leaving the orphanage at the age of 17.
For Frank, 70, returning to MacKillop for today’s apology after living at the former St Vincent’s Boy’s Home from the age of four until he was eight or nine, the apology with its tales of cruelty was also eye-opening.
“Where was I when all that was happening?” he said.
He said the care he received in the institution while both his parents were treated for tuberculosis, was strict and disciplined, but never cruel.
Acknowledging that he was one of the lucky ones who retuned homes to his parents, Frank said it was only through the advocacy of workers that this happened. “One thing that never gets said is the thanks,” he said.
MacKillop chief executive Micaela Cronin said it was important to learn from yesterday’s apology: “we need to listen to what children’s experiences are, those who are in care.”