Victims of abuse: family tells of their trauma

VICTIMS and family members affected by clergy sexual abuse yesterday used a Victorian parliamentary inquiry to speak of their trauma and fight for justice.

In a packed hearing room, the inquiry heard from parents Chrissie and Anthony Foster about the impact of abuse two of their children suffered from a parish priest in suburban Melbourne.

Their daughter Emma Foster took her own life after being abused by the priest, while her sister Katie was left with a serious disability after being hit by a car while drunk.

The couple said the Catholic Church and former Melbourne Archbishop Cardinal George Pell had failed to adequately deal with their complaints of abuse.

“We fervently hope you have the strength of character to stand up for the rights of children against the might of the Catholic Church,” Mr Foster said.

“We experienced a sociopathic lack of empathy, typifying the attitude and responses of the church hierarchy.”

Three other victims of abuse also told their stories yesterday, with witnesses discussing ongoing trauma and the Catholic Church’s contested ‘Towards Healing’ response protocol.

Ballarat survivors and their families are expected to give evidence in regional hearings, although the Victorian Parliament’s Family and Community Development Committee is yet to announce regional sitting dates.

Committee chair Georgie Crozier used her opening statement to outline plans for the inquiry to continue despite a national royal commission announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“In Victoria, we have already undertaken a significant amount of work through this inquiry and this has brought to life important revelations that have influenced the decision to call a royal commission,” she said.

The Victorian inquiry is due to report by April 30, with representatives of the Catholic Church expected to give evidence.

thomas.mcilroy@thecourier.com.au

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