Oakleigh MPs abuse inquiry plea
OAKLEIGH state MP Ann Barker is to meet Attorney-General Robert Clark tomorrow as the campaign for a state inquiry into sexual assaults in the Catholic Church intensifies.
Ms Barker had been pushing since April to meet with Mr Clark, and her wish was granted last week.
“The state has an obligation to consider law policy and practice to protect children,” she said.
Mother-of-three Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were sexually assaulted at a Monash Catholic primary school, said an inquiry would help uncover secrets held by the church.
“Priests are getting away with murder because of their victims’ suicides, and it’s just not right,” Ms Foster said.
One of Ms Foster’s daughters died in 2008 after battling mental illness.
“If everything is out in the open then people might finally be able to have peace,” she said.
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne spokesman James O’Farrell said all victims could report allegations to police, but they could also have their complaints investigated by the church.
“Sexual abuse in any form is a shocking evil and the loss of any life from sexual abuse is a tragedy,” Mr O’Farrell said.
PhD candidate in law at Monash University Judy Courtin, who is studying the impact of sexual assaults by clergy on victims, said an inquiry would help victims and their families.
“All these grieving families are just suffering in silence,” Ms Courtin said.
Her research paper shows 26 young Ballarat men committed suicide years after being abused by clergymen.
“An inquiry would hopefully include the church handing over all their documents and files to the police, which is where they belong,” she said.
But Mr O’Farrell said the church had been transparent in its dealings with police.
Ms Barker said Victoria could take the lead by launching an investigation, and that there would not necessarily be a need for a national inquiry.
Mr Clark said he was seeking further advice on the issues.