FAMILIES impacted by sexual abuse in the Ballarat region have begun a moving project to remember loved ones who have died.
A new photo series featuring relatives with images or mementos of their loved ones will be presented to the Victorian inquiry into institutional sexual abuse when it returns for public hearings in Ballarat next month.
Organiser and abuse victim Peter Blenkiron recruited Ballarat photographer Craig Holloway to take the photos at locations around the Ballarat region.
Participant Helen Watson said the project would help support family members, including those involved in a group submission to the inquiry, and help remember those who had taken their own lives or died prematurely.
“It’s another way for people to come forward and speak out because we know for some writing a submission or giving evidence is too hard,” she said.
“We are encouraging anyone who might have the courage to do it to be involved between now and February.”
In a photo taken at the University of Ballarat SMB campus, Ms Watson holds a photo of her son Peter who was abused by a Catholic priest Paul David Ryan.
He took his own life in 1999, aged 24.
“He’s standing at the water tank on the farm in Tatyoon which has a lot of fond memories for me,” she said.
The group submission the parliamentary inquiry is from 32 people in the Ballarat region, telling of the experience of 11 victims abused by Catholic clergy.
Hearings in February will be the second time the Victorian Parliament’s Family and Community Development Committee hears evidence in Ballarat, after a previous hearing last month.
If you or someone you know needs assistance or support, contact the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault 5320 3933 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.