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Jessica Steele

Published: 26 November 2020
Author: Jessica Steele

National memorial to child abuse victims

All Australians are being invited to have their say about designs for a National Memorial dedicated to victims of child sexual abuse.

On 22 October 2018, the Federal Government made a historical apology to the generations of children who had suffered institutional sexual abuse, and they committed to constructing a museum to chronicle the stories of survivors, and to provide a sanctuary for recognition and reflection on the wrongs suffered in the past.

Now, almost two years after the landmark apology was made, the Australian Government has finally committed to funding the endeavour. They are investing $6.7 million from the 2020-21 Budget to establish a National Memorial for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (the National Memorial) in Canberra, with completion expected in 2022.

It is important to recognise the trauma suffered by those who have experienced institutional abuse, both individually and collectively as a society. A public memorial can serve as a symbolic and practical meeting place for survivors, their families and supporters, and offer opportunities for healing and reflection. It can also build the foundation for reflection and discussion around child abuse in institutions, and can address how to ensure such abuse is prevented from happening again. Most importantly, the views of survivors should be at the forefront of the development of any memorial.

Victims/survivors, their families and advocates are now being invited to have their say about the design of the National Memorial. In doing so, they will play an important role in determining how best to acknowledge the wrongs of past generations, whilst sombrely educating future generations as to why such crimes should never be allowed to reoccur.

An online survey is now open, and can be accessed at www.engage.dss.gov.au. The survey is anonymous and is open until 11.59pm on 30 November 2020.

The website also provides those who have and have not accessed the National Redress Scheme, with the opportunity to provide feedback on the Scheme, and is open until 11.59pm 16 December 2020.

The Abuse Law Department at Ryan Carlisle Thomas has submitted its feedback to the National Memorial survey and we encourage others to do so as well.

While it is disheartening to see that the promise made by the Government in 2018 has taken nearly two years merely to receive funding, it is an important step forward nevertheless in the continued effort of acknowledging the ongoing trauma of child abuse.

Assistance is available 24 hours a day through Lifeline on 13 11 14, 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732 and MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978, and a full range of support services, based on demographic area, can be found at the National Redress Scheme website.

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