WARDS of the state who complained about child sexual abuse were locked in cupboards, toilets and even disappeared without explanation, an inquiry has heard.
Representatives of the Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) told the Victorian inquiry into institutional sexual abuse that children’s homes and orphanages in communities including Ballarat played host to abuse and neglect which left victims with lifelong trauma.
CLAN executive officer Leonie Sheedy told a public hearing in Melbourne yesterday that children were forced to eat meals in toilets after reporting abuse.
“A common method of punishing children was isolating them,” she said.
“There was no point in telling others who worked in the orphanages (because) they would just protect their own.”
Yesterday, The Courier reported that CLAN had found records of 26 children who had died in the former Ballarat orphanage between 1875 and 1939.
Ms Sheedy told the crowded hearing that a child resident of Ballarat Orphanage who was raped by a carer was considered to have been “the seducer” and was punished.
Police and government had failed wards of the state, Ms Sheedy said, by returning children who had run away to escape abuse and poor treatment to the same institutions.
Ms Sheedy and CLAN spokesman Frank Golding said homes around Victoria, including those run by religious organisations and the government, had mistreated children.
The group made 10 recommendations to the inquiry, calling for better reporting mechanisms for victims and for all instances of abuse to be mandatorily reported within 24 hours.