‘They had nowhere to hide’: abuse survivors praise commission for shaking institutions

The Guardian (UK)

Melissa Davey

Anthony Foster, an outspoken advocate for child sexual abuse victims and survivors, noticed a glaring absence from the hearing rooms during the final week of the child sexual abuse royal commission.

“There has not been one representative from one religious institution present,” says Foster, whose daughters Emma and Katie were sexually abused by a Catholic priest.

“Not one. And all of the survivors have noticed it.”

The absence of senior religious leaders and other high-profile institutional representatives was particularly jarring to Foster, given the closing week of public hearings focused on the nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse, and prevention and responses.

On Monday, the chair of the commission, Justice Peter McClellan, revealed that children were allegedly sexually abused in more than 4,000 Australian institutions.

“The non-attendance of the representatives of those institutions this week is palpable,” says Foster, whose own evidence in 2013 highlighted the gross flaws in the handling of sexual abuse cases by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. “It has been such an important, enlightening week.”

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