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Published: 17 August 2015
Author: RCT Abuse Law team

Royal Commission opens State response to Child Abuse hearing

Today saw day one of the 30th case study of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The case study or public hearing will inquire into three State-run youth training and reception centres. The case study is expected to run for two weeks and the Commission expects to hear from 23 witnesses, including 10 survivors of abuse.

In her opening address, Counsel Assisting the Commission, Dr Peggy Dwyer, canvassed the evidence expected from each witness. Dr Dwyer noted the Commission cannot publicly examine all State-based institutions but will focus on three Victorian institutions – Turana, Winlaton and Baltara. The experiences to be examined span the period between the 1960s and early 1990s.

Dr Dwyer noted the Commission has been contacted by over 200 former residents of State-run institutions to date, including former residents of Allambie Reception Centre, Hillside Boys’ Home, Pirra Girls’ Home and Royal Park Depot. 

Dr Dwyer explained that some common experiences exist between survivors set to give evidence, including; being forced to strip on initial placement at institutions or on return from absconding; being forced to undergo invasive medical examinations; being forced to take contraceptive pills; being abused by other residents facilitated by a lack of supervision; and facing barriers to reporting abuse.

Today the Commission heard evidence from Norman Latham, a former resident of Turana who alleged abuse by two former staff members. The Commission also heard from Mr Joseph Marijancevic a former resident of Menzies and Turana. Mr Marijancevic’s evidence will continue at 10am tomorrow.

The public hearing will examine the responses to allegations of sexual and physical abuse at these State-run institutions, including the responses of staff at the institutions, Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Ryan Carlisle Thomas acts for many survivors who allege abuse at State-run institutions, including Allambie Reception Centre, Baltara, the Hillside Boys’ Home, Pirra Girls’ Home, Royal Park Depot, Turana and Winlaton. 

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