Sexual Abuse Royal Commission officials in Ballarat

CLERGY sex abuse survivors have welcomed the visit to Ballarat by officers from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The officers were in Ballarat yesterday for informal meetings with community groups and service providers to share information about the work of the Royal Commission.

The initial meetings will be followed by a visit to the region by Royal Commissioners, including the chairman, next month.

Clergy sex abuse survivor Andrew Collins said for him the consultation was about finding out what the plans were for the Royal Commission in Ballarat. 

“I’m really glad it’s something that is being taken very seriously. There’s a lot of planning going into it,” he said. “They did make it obvious that they realise that Ballarat is one of the hotspots for abuse in Australia. “

So far, the Royal Commission has not said if it will hold public hearings in Ballarat. 

Royal Commission chief executive officer Janette Dines said community-based organisations played an important role in supporting their clients to engage with the Royal Commission.

Mr Collins said he believed there would eventually be private hearings in Ballarat, as well as a public forum to inform the community about the process.

“It’s great that they’re not just rushing into it, that they are giving it a thoughtful response,” he said.

Fellow survivor Peter Blenkiron said he believed the Royal Commission wanted to approach the community in Ballarat in a way that was effective without being traumatising.

Mr Blenkiron said there needed to be more support for survivors, and that for too long there have been “words and not action”.

“We need a system in place to meet our needs. You can’t throw counselling at somebody if they can’t get out of bed or put food on the table,” he said.

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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