Published: 27 November 2019
Author: Ian Dallas
Premier apologises to the Puffing Billy sex abuse survivors
Yesterday marked a momentous day for the survivors of abuse at Puffing Billy Railway and other railway bodies.
The Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, rose to offer an apology on behalf of State Parliament of Victoria for having failed to protect the children who were sexually and physically abused in connection with Puffing Billy and other railway organisations.
The apology comes almost 18 months after the Victorian Ombudsman presented a detailed investigation into notorious child sex offender Robert Whitehead’s involvement with Puffing Billy, Victorian Railways and other railway bodies on 25 June 2018.
The first recommendation of the Ombudsman was that the Minister should apologise publicly to all victims of Robert Whitehead: "for the current and historical actions of Government agencies who individually or collectively failed to protect children from sexual abuse."
The reason for the delay in making this apology is by no means evident. The persistence of the survivors of the abuse has to a large degree brought about the apology.
A group of the survivors of abuse by Robert Whitehead have played a pivotal role in bringing Whitehead to justice. Those efforts resulted in him being convicted and sent to jail, where he died.
The survivors went on to make claims for compensation which resulted in significant sums of money being awarded to them through the court process.
RCT Law had the honour of representing these men, now in their mature years.
RCT Law continues to represent other survivors of abuse perpetrated by Robert Whitehead and others within the railway community. The significant experience of the firm in this area has allowed us to obtain excellent results by way of compensation for our clients.
The propensity of Whitehead for paedophilic behaviour was known as early as the 1950s and yet he continued to be employed by the Victorian Railways and was allowed to volunteer in a number of railway organisations. These roles allowed him access to children and he used this access to perpetrate awful sexual abuse.
RCT Law remains ready and willing to act on behalf of other survivors of this awful abuse.