Resulting from the dramatic jumps in past BBC students/‘Old Boys’, family members and other interested viewers, RCbbc Blog is now approaching 750 Subscribers! From something that began as simply an idea, a few like-minds started messaging and now there has been leaps in global viewers. Obviously, BBC has earned a place with its high-levels of diversified achievements: academic-sporting-cultural both inter-intra-world competitions.
This post is however, not to focus on the positive, public and uplifting moments – rather provide further reinforcement of the solutions that should be easily understood by those effected by CSA. While Child Sexual Abuse has, does and will continue to exist its acknowledgement, realisation and avoidance-of will allow continued trust to be had with where our children and young adults are schooled.
Should any current + future parents / adoptees have any concerns of their children’s care, following is a copy of what BBC/PMSA has provided for this purpose: (as follows) Further assistance may be gained through Qld Police’s Children’s safety-Youth safety-Children and the internet-Who’s chatting to your kids?-PoliceLink-Child Protection Investigation Unit (CPIU) https://www.police.qld.gov.au/units/victims-of-crime/child-protection
knowmore is immense help, for any stage of Compensation-Redress-Legal advice. As stated on their site: “Free legal help; FOR SURVIVORS”. Explained further, throughout the site “knowmore is an independent service giving free legal advice to survivors of abuse by providing them with information about the justice and redress options that may be available to them.” explains more. Whichever stage you’re at / your family are at, knowmore provide specialised advice in this field!
Does the mention of any of the terms of ‘corruption, abuse, deception, obstruction’ cause a creepy feeling, the hairs on the back of your neck stand, or a chill run down your spine? You may have been effected by any of inappropriate issues, that are still becoming prevalent today. Most of us are familiar with the saying of “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely”. (Lord Acton)
Translations of this are often made into areas of vulnerability: Teacher-Students (pedophilia), Church Leader-Youth (child sexual abuser), Sports Coach-Player (privatelessons), Disability Carer-disabled (manipulation), Government-Indigenous (stolen generations), Caretaker-Retiree (aged care abuse) and Banks-Customers (coercion). Thankfully, there’s been many Royal Commissions called, with more to come. Our ‘RoyalCommBBC’ is only a small example of what can be possible, when the Sharing of beneficial Information-News-Experiences-Solutions are made.
A great part of any Institution, is that like members typically stick together. It’s been found that when ‘reality hits home’, many of us acknowledge that they’re not alone AND there is a simple solution available. This is where RCbbc can help, in supporting past Students, Parents and Friends in contacting experts in their fields.
Of serious concern amongst most communities is the frequent questioning of “well, why didn’t you tell us closer to when it happened?” (delay) and/or “how do we know you’re not making it up?” (truth telling). As negatively-impacting as each of these statements may be one the victim-survivour of Child Sexual Abuse, the fact that they’ve reached the point they are willing to speak of these past events and it’s receiving a defensive reaction of disbelief, only adds to their sorrow.
Now would be ideal timing to instigate Counselling, if the abused-child/adult has not undertaken this momentous step. Knowing that to make this fundamental leap, is of importance on many levels. Parental or Carer disagreement with this fundamental step, can have just as devastating effects on the surviving-victim of these abuses. Research has shown that children show more honesty, whereas the perpetrating adults frequently are lying, to claim their lack of guilt.
Having heard other Survivours get this response from their families AND hearing near-identical comments from my own family, these may be included in the Institutional-training of ‘Defensive‘ attitudes. Ironic, that these same churches preach to “love thy neighbour, as if their your own family” (Matthew 12:31) – yet disbelief of (finally) being told the reasons for years of sorrow are disbelieved is similar to ‘shooting yourself in the other foot’…
As it has been for decades, the Catholic Church is in the midst of a crisis, one whose long reach has traumatized thousands and left one of the world’s oldest institutions struggling to find a way forward. In late February, the Vatican held a high-profile conference on the sexual-abuse crisis—the revelations of decades of abuse, by priests in different parts of the globe, of children, adult seminarians, and nuns. During the conference, Pope Francis called for “concrete” change, though the Atlantic reporter Rachel Donadio wrote that, on the whole, the meeting seemed largely to be a “consciousness-raising exercise,” out of step with the “zero tolerance” that many victims’ advocates in the United States have been demanding for priests who use their power to abuse. It seems the crisis will likely drag on as the Church’s highest authorities continue their slow-moving reckoning.
What is an institutional crisis for the Church is a personal crisis for the faithful. Lay Catholics are left to grapple with what this crisis means for them, their families, and their faith. Parents in particular often feel acutely conflicted. How can they not worry about sending their children to be altar servers after reading about priests taking advantage of altar servers in the past? At the same time, devout parents who deeply love the Church naturally want their children to receive its spiritual benefits. What are they to do?
Some decide that they simply can’t reconcile their faith with decades of abuse and the subsequent cover-ups, or that the best way to protect their kids is to leave the Church. Laura Donovan, 30, says the child-sexual-abuse crisis is the reason she’s parted ways with the Catholic Church. Donovan, a social-media manager based in Los Angeles, had drifted away somewhat from her Catholic upbringing by the time The Boston Globerevealedtheextent of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of Boston-area priests’ child abuse in 2002, but when she learned just how widespreadthe problem was, she says, “ultimately, that’s what made me think, I don’t want to go back to a Catholic church again, and I certainly don’t want to raise my own children in a religion like that.”
The Pennsylvania grand-jury report that revealed 70 years of abuse by more than 300 priests came out in August of last year, around the time Donovan’s first child, a son, was born. After becoming a parent, Donovan felt called back to Christianity and wanted to raise her family in a Church, but she and her husband “made the call not to raise him Catholic.”
“I don’t necessarily think anything would happen to him,” she says. “I mean, it could. But I’m just thinking, What would he think of us if we brought him to that church even after all of this had unfolded? … Let’s say he was raised Catholic, and then he learned about all of that—about the sex abuse worldwide that had been going on for decades and covered up—and then came to us and said, ‘How could you have raised me in that religion?’ I wouldn’t have an answer for him.”
Eventually, Donovan’s son was baptized in the Lutheran Church, and Donovan herself was confirmed as well. Her husband grew up attending a Lutheran church, and when Donovan first attended with him, “I felt really comfortable there,” she says. “It had a lot of elements of what I like about the Catholic Church—it’s old, it’s structured, but it doesn’t have that big scandal, obviously.” Still, she misses some of the Catholic traditions she grew up with: the songs, the rosary beads, the congregational sign of peace, “praying to saints and thinking about angels.” Today, when Donovan prays, she has a hard time not instinctively making the sign of the cross.
It’s difficult to know just how many people have left the Catholic Church as a direct result of the sexual-abuse crisis. But across the United States, the Catholic Church is losing members at a faster rate than any other religion, with more than six former Catholics for every recent convert as of 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. (The second-fastest-declining religion in the United States was mainline Protestantism, with 1.7 former congregants for every new member.) From 2010 to 2016, the percentage of American adults who describe themselves as Catholic dropped from 25.2 percent to 23.5 percent. While it’s unclear whether the abuse crisis is the main reason Catholics are leaving the Church, a 2016 Public Religion Research Institute report found that people who were raised Catholic were more likely than those raised in any other religious tradition to characterize their departure as a direct result of “negative religious treatment of gay and lesbian people” and/or “the clergy sexual-abuse scandal.”
Other Catholic parents, though distressed by the Pennsylvania revelations and earlier reports on the crisis, are committed to the Church.
“It’s not something that changed my day-to-day practice of the faith, and I couldn’t see how it possibly could,” says Kendra Tierney, a 42-year-old writer and stay-at-home mother of nine children, ages 1 to 16 years old. “If you believe that the Catholic Church is the one founded by Jesus Christ, there is nowhere else to go. Jesus asked Peter, ‘Are you going to leave me also?’ and Peter says, ‘To whom shall we go?’ This is how I feel.”
Tierney was raised Catholic and says her faith deepened after she became a mother, when she started to shape her family’s home life around the liturgical year. That was the inspiration for her blog Catholic All Year. She says she wasn’t paying much attention to the news when the 2002 Boston Globe investigation came out, “so for me, the first big punch in the gut was late last summer, when the [Pennsylvania] report came out.”
She sees cases of abuse as “failings of personal holiness,” and rather than “sitting back and saying, ‘This is a terrible thing; this is a threat to my children and my faith,’” she wanted to do something in response to the news. Along with some others in the Catholic community online, Tierney launched a campaign to promote a month-long period of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice, as an act of reparation to God for the sins of abusive priests and the bishops who covered up their actions.
“For the whole month of September, our family observed kind of a Lent,” she says. “We gave up all treats, desserts, and sodas, all TV and video games, and we added in a special prayer from a book called In Sinu Jesu, a prayer of reparation for priests. We are all sinners, and if we can each improve as a member of the body of Christ, if I can raise holy sons and daughters, that’s going to help the Church.”
One Catholic father, a 35-year-old in New York City, seems to be feeling torn between raising a holy daughter and protecting her. (This man asked to remain anonymous, because he works for a Catholic organization and worried there could be consequences at his job if he spoke freely about the Church.) He grew up in a Hispanic Catholic family and went to Catholic school for middle and high school, and though he didn’t go to church much in college, he says he grew closer to the Church after he met his wife. “She was much more devout than me,” he says.
The man says he and his wife have not yet discussed how they feel about raising their daughter, now 2, in the Church, in light of the sexual-abuse crisis. “We’ve just been numb,” he says. Plus, with the stresses of parenting a 2-year-old, the family hasn’t had a ton of time to go to church lately anyway. “But I’m not going to deny that part of it is a real distaste for all this news that keeps coming out,” he says.
A couple of days after the Pennsylvania report was released, he posted on a Catholicism subreddit, asking whether it was reasonable to be wary “of priests with very poor social skills or [who] appear awkward?” In the replies, some people chided him, saying that just because someone is awkward doesn’t mean he’s a predator, but the man still feels like he needs to trust his gut if someone seems off to him.
“I think it’s different for parents,” he says. “We have to protect our children. That’s our No. 1 calling in life, and that comes before everything. You’re not worried about the Church or school—you’re allowed to judge and be cautious and not feel guilty about that, because you’re a protector.”
Nonetheless, he still hopes to send his daughter to Catholic school when she’s older, and for the Church to be part of her life in some way, even if he’s still thinking through how exactly to handle it. “[Catholicism] is wrapped up in identity for a lot of Hispanics,” he says. “I want my daughter to find her own way, but there is a place in my heart that still hopes she ends up being part of the faith. There’s a lot of beauty in the Church. Even if you just want to look at Christ as a historical figure, that’s a great model for how people should treat other people.”
Among families who are still part of a Catholic church, some parents have begun to rethink the level of their children’s involvement in the church community. The Catholic dad in New York City, for example, said, “I probably would never feel comfortable with my daughter being alone at a church by herself without parents around.”
In 2018, after the Pennsylvania grand-jury report, Chris Damian, an author and attorney based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, co-founded YArespond, a group that hosts events for young Catholic adults to get together and discuss the crisis in the Church. At a meeting in August, more than 100 attendees gathered in the basement of a Minneapolis church to express sentiments including worry, disillusionment, anger, and grief. According to Damian’s blog, one attendee said, “There’s no way I would let my child be an altar server.”
It’s an understandable position to take, says Kirby Hoberg, 28, a blogger, actor, and mother of three who helps YArespond organize and host meetings—especially given that, historically, altar servers have spent more time alone with priests than have other children in a congregation. “I hear that a lot, and I see why people would do that,” Hoberg says.
A dose of caution is enough to make some Catholic parents comfortable with their kids being involved in church activities. Chris Mayerle’s 12-year-old son, for instance, not only is an altar server but knows how to serve Mass in Latin, which apparently makes him in quite high demand in their home state of Utah. The Mayerles—Chris, his wife, and their seven children (some of whom are adults)—have moved around a good amount, since Chris was in the Air Force for a time. In each place they’ve lived, they’ve vetted churches and priests—“parish shopping,” as he puts it—before settling down with a congregation.
“We became very, very selective about which priests we would be around, and which priests we would let our children be around,” Mayerle says. “Everywhere we’ve been, we’ve been close to our priests. We have them over for dinner. You can get a sense when things are not quite right with a priest. But we never put our kids in a situation where they’ve been alone with a priest or where they could be compromised.”
The way a priest says Mass, Mayerle believes, is one clue to his personality, and that plays a role in whether or not Mayerle will trust him. At the first church the family went to in Utah, “the priest just skipped over major parts of the Mass,” he says. “That was off-putting to us. One of the things we look for is when they do things the way they’re supposed to. In other words, they’re obedient—it means they’re probably obedient to their vows also. When they just start winging it, it means they view themselves as their own authority, which I don’t think is healthy.”
Of course, many Catholic parents, while dismayed by how the scandal reflects on the Church as an institution, still trust their own parishes and priests. They say their churches have routine audits, training for adult volunteers, and policies that prohibit priests from being alone with children. Some Catholic parents we spoke to mentioned that their priests openly discuss the issue and share in their grief, and that the leaders in their churches seem willing to engage with parishioners in discussions on how to make Catholic churches safer places. Others emphasize that they believe the vast majority of priests are morally sound leaders, and that only a small portion have been accused of inappropriate conduct.
But perhaps the biggest change from earlier eras, when some of the abuse described in the Boston and Pennsylvania reports occurred, is that for some of today’s Catholic families, priests are not put on a pedestal. Several parents we spoke to for this piece said there is less of a sense among Catholics today than in decades past that priests are infallible, or more incorruptible than the average person. And so they teach their kids to be wary of inappropriate behavior from all grown-ups—priests and other spiritual leaders included.
“You want your kids to have respect for people in positions of authority, but perhaps overemphasized respect for the clergy allowed this culture of abuse to last in the shadows as long as it did,” Tierney says. “They’re not superheroes; they are humans. We are all capable of sin, and that’s the conversation I’ve had with my kids. You trust your gut, and if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.”
“It’s not that I would treat my priest differently from the way I would another grown-up, but I am very, very cautious about leaving my children alone with anyone,” says Haley Stewart, the writer behind the Catholic blog Carrots for Michaelmas and a 33-year-old mother of four in Waco, Texas. Her children are seven months, 5, 7, and 10, and she says she has talked about bodily autonomy with them from a young age.
“We start really young by teaching our kids the anatomical names of their body parts, saying, ‘This part of your body is not for anyone else to touch,’” she says. “It doesn’t have to be a big scary conversation with a small child. Also impressing upon them that if someone ever does something to your body that you did not like, that is not your fault, and you need to tell Mom and Dad so we can make sure you are safe from that person.”
Kirby Hoberg has noticed that the younger Catholic parents she knows seem angrier about the recent wave of sexual-abuse revelations than do older parents she knows who were adults during the first phase of the crisis, in 2002. “I think I was turning 12 when the news started to break … We watched things like the Dallas Charter [come into effect] and really believed that things were being taken care of,” she says. “I’m noticing a lot of people older than me [seem to feel] very helpless. Like, ‘We tried once, and now it’s gone.’”
Hoberg expects that Catholic parents of her generation will be reckoning with the aftereffects of the sexual-abuse crisis for years to come. “It’s going to be a long road,” she says. “The kids aren’t going away, and these questions are only going to get harder [as they get older].”
She’s uncertain, she adds, about how she might handle a future in which her son decides he wants to go to seminary—a sentiment that Chris Mayerle, the Utah dad whose son is an altar server, echoes. His son has expressed interest in becoming a priest, and if he were to follow through, Mayerle says, “we’d be excited, in all honesty. The Church is in great need of renewal, and it’s gotta start somewhere. But whatever seminary he wanted to go to, we would vet very closely.”
Having re-watched a favourite TV Series (Da Vinci Demons), attention was drawn to something that’s now screaming out louder and loader. Despite the appalling deception, tomfoolery & murders committed in the times of Leonardo Da Vinci (15th Cen.) in this staged re-enactment, the common powers possessed by the Catholic Church was always taken for granted. Social dynamics included a default framework of the church’s primary inclusion in the basic ecosystem. Australia’s recent mis-focus on Captain Cook, ahead of Captain Flinders & Bungaree. Each summarises how History has been remembered, not genuinely proven.
Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had been the Initial national confrontation, followed by numerous other global countries addressing this common issue. Catholic Vatican’s Pope (Francis) has at least begun publicly addressing this issue, after Millenia of denials-hiding evidence-moving wrongdoers & almost a century of rewritten Papal Orders advocating sins being hidden. As mammoth an issue this is, what’s becoming apparent is the immensity of addressing it. The lives of these children is paramount, as is the resulting residual impacts these Sexual Abuses has had. Postings such as these help share some of these factual truths.
As numerous bodies of Surviving Victims, Medical, Commercial & Community bodies provide help, News reports in the Journalism of individual to broad scale cases & each country offering their own nuances of interpreting & reacting to these ordeals – the immensity of this understanding also risks being ‘swept under the carpet‘ as CSA had been, to grow to what it had. Together, we need to openly address this publicly, openly, transparently & suitably as possible. Groups such as this RoyalCommBBC are only getting started on our mission & via your simply sharing these posts about your contacts – another Survivour may remember things & get suitable help, pictures may remind a family of an unsolved mystery or News of someone being caught out for inappropriate behaviour triggers off flashbacks leading to arrest. We hope this helps out open up our lives.
As frightening as it may be, it’s becoming highly publicised that ‘support is available from the … church/club/school/Institution‘. BEWARE: These may be another example of ‘bight the hand that feeds you‘. Also, that numerous wrongdoers of CSA were often involved as ‘Counsellor’, ‘Supporter’, ‘Family-liaison’ & so forth.
It has been found that experts in the fields of CSA Counselling+Support are available on both the CARC, knowmore & NationalRedressScheme sites. Often, these discussions & meetings are a much needed step in a victim’s recovery.
If “all children deserve a safe and happy childhood”, as the Letters Patent began Australia’s recent CARC (Child Abuse Royal Commission) – how far along this journey are Survivors, Family-Friends, Institutions & Perpetrators? While some fairytales have more possibility of ‘safe & happy’ endings, reality is that multiple Victims are losing their chance to experience any Compensation &/or Redress from the Institutions & Perpetrators responsible. Perhaps this extension of time is part of the calculated risk of Predators targeting the Vulnerable … ‘don’t worry, they’ll be dead/unable/incapacitated before we need to worry about things’ may frequently be thought.
Back to the returning of our youth’s lost safety and happiness of childhood – this is a far greater accomplishment of “trust, intimacy, agency & sexuality” that many Victims have not fully experienced. I hope for more Messages-Posts-Questions-Discussions around these 4 broad points!
Suburban Melbourne parents Chrissie and Anthony Foster learned in the 1990s that two of their daughters, Emma and Katie, were raped by their local priest, Father Kevin O’Donnell.
Emma began harming herself after the trauma forced upon her. Teenage Katie got drunk to avoid her haunting memories and was hit by a car, leaving her permanently disabled.
So began Chrissie and Anthony’s harrowing, tireless fight for justice.
After the priest was sentenced to jail, the church — through its Melbourne Response scheme — offered Emma a $50,000 payment that would require her to sign away future legal rights. The Fosters thought this grossly unfair, sued the church and eventually settled for a sum many times larger than the initial offer.
In 2008, Emma died of an overdose.
The Fosters became public figures and challenged the church’s attitudes and legal strategies.
In 2010, Chrissie published her family story in a book, Hell on the Way to Heaven.
A year later, the Victorian Government launched a parliamentary inquiry into the way religious and other institutions handled cases of child sexual abuse. The Fosters gave damning evidence against the church hierarchy.
A national campaign then led the Gillard government to announce the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Foster story was at the forefront of the royal commission’s public hearing into the Melbourne Response. Chrissie gave evidence, supported by Anthony on the stand.
In 2017, Anthony died after collapsing in a car park. He was given a state funeral. Speakers included the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, and royal commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan.
Despite her grief, Chrissie is dedicated to continue fighting injustice so survivors and their families may receive proper compensation through redress and common law. She is also a devoted and passionate advocate for better child protection.
Denis Ryan: A country policeman ignored
It was 1956 and Denis Ryan was a young policeman on patrol in St Kilda. One night, he and his partner came across a drunken priest caught pants-down in a car with prostitutes.
The clergyman was taken into custody but was later released by another policeman.
Denis was told, “You don’t charge priests”. He also learned there were members of Victoria Police who actively protected the church from scandal.
Years later, Denis was transferred to the regional Victorian city of Mildura, where he came across the same priest he had arrested in St Kilda.
The priest was Monsignor John Day, a violent and sadistic man. A teacher and a nun told the policeman that Monsignor Day was committing crimes against children.
Denis investigated and compiled a list of victims; he sought to have the priest charged, but was prevented by senior police, including his immediate superior, Sergeant Jim Barritt — who was a close friend of Monsignor Day.
Denis wrote to the Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, but received no help. Bishop Mulkearns told him that Sergeant Barritt had already cleared Monsignor Day of any allegations.
The church and police officials’ protection of Monsignor Day did two things: it was forced Denis out of the job he loved, and gave a green light to other paedophile priests in the vast Ballarat Diocese.
Denis, who still lives in Mildura, gave evidence to the royal commission and was supported by former Victoria Police chief commissioner Mick Miller.
The force officially apologised to him in 2016, but he has still not been properly compensated for his ruined career.
In his final speech last month before handing down recommendations, Justice McClellan explained how police in Victoria and NSW actively protected church officials, when their highest priority should have been protecting children.
Paul Tatchell: A boy who fought back
After Monsignor Day was allowed to go free, criminal clergy in the Ballarat Diocese became emboldened.
St Alipius Primary School was ruled by four paedophiles, all working there at the same time. They included the notorious Gerald Ridsdale, and a violent sex offender called Brother Ted Dowlan, who ran one of the boarding houses at St Patrick’s College. He later changed his name to Ted Bales.
Br Dowlan, whose bedroom was attached to the Year 7 students’ dormitory, beat and raped children at will.
One night, he raped a boy called Paul Tatchell, who fought back. After being attacked in Br Dowlan’s room, Paul began punching the clergyman.
Leaving the Brother crying on the floor, Paul ran from the room and tried to call his parents for help, but the school’s headmaster and other staff locked him in a closet until morning.
Paul was then expelled. The church leadership did not report Br Dowlan to police. He remained a free man until Paul and other victims came forward to make police statements in the early 1990s.
He watched from the back of a courtroom as the law finally punished his attacker.
Paul gave evidence at the royal commission. So did the school headmaster, Brother Paul Nangle, who claimed he never knew Br Dowlan was a sex offender.
But the evidence was overwhelming. Paul went into the army, and then into business. He now owns a newspaper, and was recently elected Mayor of Moorabool Shire, east of Ballarat, for the third time.
He does not consider himself a “victim” and says he does not suffer the same type of post-traumatic stress as other former boarders — perhaps because he punched back, and could not be controlled like others.
As part of his interview for the ABC documentary Undeniable, Paul went back to the room where he was raped for the first time.
He will never return to that building.
Joanne McCarthy: Uncovering devastating secrets
In 2006, Newcastle Herald reporter Joanne McCarthy received a phone call that set her on a path to becoming one of Australia’s finest investigative journalists.
The voice at the other end of the line asked her why a priest who had been convicted of child sexual assault was not being written about in the newspaper.
Joanne looked into it, and found the tip-off to be accurate, but on questioning church authorities, she immediately detected they were lying.
For children, the Newcastle-Maitland region had been a dangerous place for decades. The cover-up of crimes was effective and unrelenting.
But Joanne’s work began unravelling the truth. She would go on to write more than a thousand stories on clergy sex abuse and institutional cover-ups within both the Catholic and Anglican churches.
In 2012, John Pirona, a fireman and victim of clergy sex abuse, disappeared after leaving a note that read “too much pain”. Joanne and the Herald covered the story and later reported on John’s death by suicide.
On the night of John’s funeral, Joanne decided enough was enough and wrote an editorial calling for a royal commission.
Her work, along with that of courageous Lateline journalist Suzanne Smith, led to senior NSW detective Peter Fox deciding to speak out on the issue.
Soon after, then-prime minister Julia Gillard ordered the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
In the final moments of her prime ministership, she wrote a letter of endorsement for Joanne’s work in changing Australia forever.
Joanne was awarded Australian journalism’s highest honour, the Gold Walkley.
The reporter who took that phone call 11 years ago is still investigating and writing. She believes there is much work to do in delivering justice to survivors and better protection to children in all states and territories.
Rob Walsh: ‘No more suicides’
The royal commission would not have been possible without the revelations in Ballarat.
In the years preceding the inquiry, Rob Walsh was one of the survivors who helped publicise the consequences of abuse, by working with police to expose a tragically nigh number of suicides in the city.
While dealing with his own acute trauma, he supported others — and still is.
A subsequent NSW Special Commission of Inquiry found senior church officials withheld evidence from police.
The inquiry did not find evidence of a conspiracy by police to stall investigations and said Peter had lost objectivity in investigating the church.
But Peter’s courageous appearance motivated the Australian public to start talking about the need for a royal commission, which prime minister Gillard soon ordered.
Peter had been investigating paedophile priests for many years.
He built strong relationships with victims and provided them great comfort.
After acting as whistleblower, his position in NSW Police was untenable; he sacrificed his beloved career to reveal critical details of abuse and institutional interference in the Newcastle-Maitland region.
Before and after the interview, Lateline played a leading role in forcing Australia’s largest national inquiry into child sexual abuse.
For many years, reporter Suzanne Smith led the Lateline investigations.
“We focused very much on the leadership of the church. By elevating their significance on Lateline, we gave the stories a national focus. It also led to many victims, in other states, coming forward,” Suzanne says.
Former executive producer John Bruce says the interview with Peter was the tipping point.
“While there were subsequent attempts to undermine the value of Inspector Fox’s interview, many in the Newcastle and broader Australian community regarded him as a hero for triggering the royal commission,” he says.
In turn, Peter praised the media for its role in bringing about the inquiry.
Over decades, journalists and editors from almost all Australian television networks, news radio programs, major and regional newspapers, as well as online media, have chipped away at institutional denials and evasion.
Without the work of the press, the dark secrets of some churches, governments, charities, schools and other organisations would have remained forever untold.
John Ellis: A survivor finally heard
John Ellis was a key witness in one of the most dramatic royal commission public hearings.
The lawyer says the nation’s largest inquiry into child abuse has made Australia a better place.
“The way that they’ve gone about it has answered every challenge,” he says.
The royal commission heard evidence from John, church officials and lawyers. It gave all an insight into the tactics of the church’s legal team.
At the end of the hearing, Cardinal George Pell conceded the church dealt with John unfairly from “a Christian point of view”. The cardinal later issued the survivor an apology.
Looking back at his daunting role in the inquiry, John says, “I had the sense, really, as soon as the royal commission was announced that this was going to be a momentous time in our country”.
“What I didn’t realise was how important it would be for me personally as an individual to finally be listened to the first time.
And to be able to stand up to an institution like the church, I can’t put into words what that’s meant for me.
John and his wife Nicola, also a lawyer, represent many survivors seeking redress for the crimes committed against them.
In 2014, he was awarded the Australian Lawyers Alliance annual Civil Justice Award for “unwavering diligence, passion, vision and resilience”.
He says the Catholic Church still has no uniform approach to survivors seeking justice.
“There are parts of the Catholic Church who have been integral in working towards collaborative processes that we’ve developed,” John says.
“And there have been parts of the Catholic Church who have impeded that and sought to destroy it and break it down. I think I’ll reserve judgement on where that stands on balance.
“I think in a lot of ways it remains to be seen, and particularly after the spotlight of the royal commission is off, the church as a whole … which way it will go with that.”
He doubts the Commonwealth Government’s national redress scheme will achieve all its aims.
“I think it’s a good thing and a necessary thing. And it’s an essential part of the whole response that there be a safety net for the thousands and thousands of people who otherwise would have no avenue to redress, and would have no institution to approach for what had happened to them.
“But as a substitute for proper and effective responses from the institutions, I don’t think that that’s the answer.”
“Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis” is what a New York Times Article is titled, followed by the overplayed icon photograph:
Facebook has gone on the attack as one scandal after another — Russian meddling, data sharing, hate speech — has led to a congressional and consumer backlash.CreditCreditTom Brenner for The New York Times
Having paid significant attention to moments that FB-Facebook has appeared on Australia’s ABC, I recognised similarities between one monolith & that of church Institutions in Australia. National Redress Scheme is applicable to any Child Abuse Survivour, yet hearing of deaths before Compensation &/or Redress is made seems to reignite the fire.
Please read through the linked Article above: “The long, painful wait …” to read information such as the following:
“These figures confirm what we have known; there is huge inequity between the Catholic Church’s wealth and their responses to survivors,” said Helen Last, chief executive of the In Good Faith Foundation, which supports abuse survivors.
“The 600 survivors registered for our foundation’s services continue to experience minimal compensation and lack of comprehensive care in relation to their church abuses. They say their needs are the lowest of church priorities.”
Healy said the church’s meeting the claims of survivors whose complaints of abuse were upheld was “amongst its highest priorities”. He said that since that report the church had paid an extra $17.2 million to survivors.
The Age’sinvestigation also calls into question the privileges the church enjoys, including exemptions from nearly all forms of taxation and billions of dollars in government funding each year to run services – $7.9 billion for its Australian schools alone in 2015.
It involved obtaining property valuations from 36 Victorian councils, including most of the Melbourne metropolitan area, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, many under freedom of information.
It identified more than 1860 church-owned properties with “capital improved value” (land plus buildings) of just under $7 billion.
The delay of institutions joining the National Redress Scheme is a further betrayal betrayal and compounds the trauma endured.
Adult survivors of child sexual abuse are receiving rough justice from offending institutions such as churches. At the same time that many churches are celebrating the innocence of childhood this Christmas, they are denying justice to survivors who were innocent children when their lives were damaged and, in some cases destroyed, by institutional sexual abuse.
Thenational redress schemefor institutional sexual abuse survivors started on 1 July. Some2,000 people have made applications, but only 20 survivors (1% of the 2,000) have received any form of redress. Many of the applications received relate to institutions that have yet to come on board with the scheme. Most Catholic church dioceses and archdioceses have joined the scheme, but at least150 Catholic orders have yetto come on board. The Uniting church has yet to join the scheme and the Anglican church has only partly done so. Neither the Catholic or Uniting churches have committed to a timeframe for fully joining the scheme. The majority of Anglican church entities shouldjoin the schemeby the middle of 2019.
The survivors who are applying for redress were subjected to institutional betrayal which included facilitating child sexual assaults; punishing those who made complaints about sexual abuse; using obfuscation, denial and hard line legal tactics to hinder efforts to obtain justice as well as moving perpetrators from one institution to another where they were free to re-offend. These betrayals compounded the damage caused by the original sexual assaults. For many, the capacity to form trusting relationships was permanently damaged. This damage runs so deep that some survivors are unable to form intimate relationships or show affection. Frequently survivors use drugs and alcohol to numb their pain and if this fails, commit suicide. Parents, children and loved ones who have to cope with the heartbreak of survivors’ blighted lives are secondary victims as the damage caused by institutional betrayal spans across several generations.