A BALLARAT clergy sexual abuse survivors push for interim financial and emotional support ahead of the Royal Commission recommendations has gained momentum.
Ballarat’s major party federal candidates have all met this week with a survivors deputation.
Survivors raised concerns that the Royal Commission currently under way could be watered down, that all victims needed to be heard, that a full-time support worker was needed in clergy abuse “hot spots” and there needed to be greater access to mental health and financial resources, including victims temporarily joining the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Disability Scheme.
Survivor Andrew Collins said the deputation’s motivation was simple.
“No more deaths,” Mr Collins said.“I have tried to kill myself before. Most other victims that I know of have also tried as well.
“Unfortunately, many have succeeded. In Ballarat alone, it has been reported that there have been over 40 confirmed suicides linked to clergy abuse.
“Then there are the unconfirmed ones. The single car accidents and drug overdoses.
“Alcohol and drug abuse, along with violence and family and relationship breakups are also prevalent.”
Mr Collins said the recent Victorian government inquiry into institutionalised child abuse and the Royal Commission had brought back memories for many survivors.
“We want and support and need the Royal Commission, but unless something is done to provide immediate and interim support, there will be more deaths.”
Ballarat MP Catherine King said she could not pre-empt the Royal Commission’s findings but would follow up with Disability Reforms Minister Jenny Macklin about a full-time support worker in both Ballarat and Newcastle.
She said she would liaise with Centrelink about making it easier for survivors to move from work to payments as needed.
Both Liberal candidate John Fitzgibbon and Greens’ Stephanie Hodgins-May said they could not give policy guarantees but Mr Fitzgibbon said he would take up their concerns with Opposition spokesmen and Ms Hodgins-May said there was “great merit” to their proposals.
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