Bishop Hopes Inquiry Helps Victims Heal

Daily Mail
May 29, 2015

Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird says he hopes the child abuse royal commission provides some healing for victims.

The royal commission has heard the community in the Victorian regional city is divided, with groups "at war" over the response to the history of child sexual abuse in the Ballarat diocese.

Bishop Bird agreed the leaders of the church, not just in Ballarat, needed to tell the community that it was a good thing for abuse victims to come forward.

"I've said it several times but I would need to continue to say it because some people don't see that that's a good thing," he told the commission.

He said some people did not appreciate the full impact of the abuse.

Reading a statement to reporters, Bishop Bird apologised to victims.

"I have been very moved and I am very sorry that as young children they endured such horrendous abuse at the hands of the very people who should have cared for them.

"I hope the royal commission process provides some healing and a way forward for all victims of child sexual abuse," he said, before being heckled by some survivors and their supporters as he left.

Another survivor, Andrew Collins, said Bishop Bird should be actively trying to engage the community.

"It's as if the community just ends at the church doors and it doesn't," he told reporters.

"I think he's done very little except give some lip service to it."

Mr Collins said he was angry that Bishop Bird told the commission, in a statement, that he had a different recollection of a conversation they had discussing compensation for victims.

Bishop Bird denied telling Mr Collins and another survivor that they were intent on destroying the church or suggesting the diocese would declare bankruptcy.

The commission will hold a second hearing in Ballarat in November or December.

Lawyer and Monash University doctoral researcher Judy Courtin, who has worked with Ballarat victims, said survivors and their families should still feel hope.

"This inquiry in many senses is only just beginning, this part of the investigation. There's still a long way to go."








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