Published: 22 December 2014
Author: Penny Savidis
Royal Commission urged to hold public meetings in regional Victoria
The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse should hold public hearings in country Victoria, according to institutional abuse lawyer, Penny Savidis.
Ms. Savidis said that public hearings would encourage more survivors living in regional and remote areas of Victoria to come forward.
She said that there was a groundswell of support for public hearings in regional centres similar to those staged in other states.
“The Commission has been doing an outstanding job. But because so many of the worst institutions were based in country areas, especially in western Victoria, it would really help some survivors deal with their anguish if they were allowed to speak up publicly in their local communities,” Ms. Savidis said.
There is no news yet from the Royal Commission if public hearings will be held in regional Victoria.
Ms. Savidis said public hearings have immense value for abuse survivors, allowing people to disclose their abuse publicly for the first time, or encouraging them to take their matters to the police.
"Many of our clients live in rural and regional Victoria. Some have already given evidence in private hearings, or have travelled to Melbourne to witness the Melbourne Response public hearing that was held in the city," she said.
"Private Commission sessions have been held in Ballarat and Bendigo, along with a few public information meetings, but there’s no indication yet if the Commission will actually hold public hearings in country areas of Victoria, like it has in other states," she said.
Ryan Carlisle Thomas maintains a large database of abuse survivors and old children’s’ homes where abuse is known to have occurred. It uses this information to successfully settle financial claims against religious orders and the State Government which ran institutions that abused children in care.
The Royal Commission has committed to completing 70 case studies nationally via the public hearing process before its final deadline in December 2017. As at December 2014, 21 case studies have been the focus of public hearings.
The waiting list for a private hearing with the Royal Commission is now nine months long.
The Royal Commission will release a public consultation paper on the compensation process, known as 'redress', in January 2015.
Since the 1990s, Ryan Carlisle Thomas has represented survivors of institutional abuse. We have provided legal support to more than 1800 survivors of abuse in church, state care and other institutional settings.
List of institutions located in regional Victoria where abuse has occurred. (Source: RCT Lawyers).
APPROX NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE ABUSE ALLEGATIONS VIA RYAN CARLISLE THOMAS SETTLEMENT PROCESS
Bendigo Training Centre State of Vic 2 persons Malmsbury Youth Training Centre, Malmsbury State of Victoria 1 person Sandhurst, Bendigo State of Victoria 5 persons St Aidan’s Orphanage, Bendigo Good Shepherd Sisters 14 persons
Ashendene Boys Home, Olinda State of Victoria 11 persons Ballarat Orphanage Child and Family Services Ballarat 61 persons Glastonbury Children’s Home, Geelong Protestant/Glastonbury Child and Family Services 15 persons Gordon Boys’ Home, Geelong The Gordon Home for Boys and Girls Inc 12 persons Kardinia Children’s Home, Geelong The Salvation Army (Victoria) Property Trust 6 persons Providence Children’s’ Home, Bacchus Marsh Catholic Church via Melbourne Response 7 persons St Augustine’s Orphanage, Geelong The Trustees of the Christian Brothers 34 persons St Catherine’s, Geelong The Sisters of Mercy 7 persons St Cuthbert’s Home for Boys, Colac Ballarat Diocesan Trust (Anglican) 19 persons Nazareth House, Sebastopol Provincial Superior Sisters of Nazareth 26 persons
Morning Star Boys Home Mount Eliza The Provincial Superior for the Congregation of the Franciscan Friars 10 persons Sutton Grange Mornington State of Victoria 2 persons