Royal commission 'in vain' without government redress for victims: advocate

By Rachel Browne
WA Today
May 17, 2015

Leonie Sheedy from CLAN says it's unacceptable to expect sexual abuse victims to ask for compensation from the institutions at which they were abused.

Australia's peak advocate for children raised in orphanages and foster homes has urged the Federal Government to rethink its rejection of a national support scheme for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, asking the Commonwealth to help fund a redress scheme so victims are not forced to turn to the institutions where they were abused.

"It is unacceptable to expect us to go back to our abusers.'' 

Leonie Sheedy

Executive officer of CLAN, Leonie Sheedy, argues adults who were abused as children in publicly funded institutions should receive Government-supported redress.

The Federal Government opposes the idea of a national redress scheme saying it would be too expensive and time consuming to implement.

"You are choosing to say the Federal Government will not manage or contribute to a national redress scheme so desperately needed by so many people," Ms Sheedy wrote.  

"You are choosing to say the responsibility for any redress scheme lies solely with the institutions in which we suffered.

"It is unacceptable to expect us to go back to our abusers, cap in hand, asking for compensation. Or worse, expect us talk to them about the abuse they committed on us."

More than half a million children were raised in foster care, orphanages, children's homes and other institutions last century, with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearing many suffered horrific trauma.

Ms Sheedy said many care leavers are older and have complex medical and psychological needs, which could be met through a national redress scheme.

"This would enable a cost-effective and urgent response to the issues faced by elderly and sick care leavers," she wrote. 

"This is not just about financial compensation, but priority access to government services, such as healthcare, dental care, housing and psychological support."

The letter has been sent ahead of the royal commission's public hearing into a number of Catholic Church institutions in Ballarat.

The inquiry is expected to last three weeks and will include allegations of child sexual abuse at St Joseph's Home, St Alipius Primary School, St Alipius Parish, St Patrick's College and St Patrick's Christian Brothers' Primary School.

Ms Sheedy said the work of the royal commission will be "largely be in vain" if the government fails to establish a redress scheme.



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