Child sex abuse survivors get to air their stories at royal commission hearings in Warrnambool
SURVIVORS of child sexual abuse will be able to detail their experiences at private sessions with a royal commissioner in the Warrnambool district.
It will also hold a community information forum in Warrnambool on Wednesday, June 17, for people interested in learning more about the commission’s work.
Commissioner Justice Jennifer Coate will provide an overview of the commission and answer questions from the public.
Royal commission CEO Philip Reed said the community forum was open to anyone who had an interest in the royal commission.
“We particularly encourage people who have been affected by child sexual abuse in the care of an institution to attend,” Mr Reed said.
He said they would not have to discuss their personal stories at the community forum.
“It is a chance to find out more about the work of the royal commission — why it was established, how it works and some of the positive changes that have occurred as a result of its work.”
He said people could also become involved in helping the commission with its task by commenting on important policies or preparing a submission to an issues paper.
The commission has released eight issues papers to date on topics such as redress, civil litigation and experiences of police and prosecution processes.
Mr Reed said private sessions would also be held in the area during the week for survivors wanting to tell their stories.
The commission has already held more than 3400 private sessions across Australia.
“Private sessions are critical to the commission’s work, as they allow commissioners to hear first-hand of the impact of abuse on people and how the response of an institution affects survivors over their lifetime,” Mr Reed said.
“The information provided in private sessions is helping the royal commission better understand how child sexual abuse in institutions can be prevented.”
The Warrnambool events follow a two-week hearing in Ballarat last month where victims detailed horrific incidents of abuse by priests, brothers and nuns across the Catholic diocese including at Mortlake, Warrnambool and Penshurst.
Paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, who appeared via video-link from jail, admitted he went “haywire” during an 18-month stint at Mortlake in the early 1980s where he sexually abused a large number of children.
The community forum, which is being supported by the South Western Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) and the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative, will be held at the Lighthouse Theatre next Wednesday from 5.30 to 7.30pm.
The commission has advised that children under the age of 16 wanting to attend should be accompanied by an adult.