AFTER Professor Caroline Taylor spoke at a sexual abuse forum in Ballarat on Wednesday, a woman from the 75-strong audience approached her.
“Every parish and every priest in Australia should hear this,” the woman said.
Another attendee – the mother of two clergy sexual abuse victims – also said she left the forum “feeling so much better”.
“I can’t thank you enough. I just wish my two sons were here too,” the woman said.
Professor Taylor, a world renowned sexual abuse expert, said it was this emotion she hoped would propel Ballarat to support victims and their families into the future.
“You could feel a sense of energy in the room,” she said.
“People were saying ‘so what’s going to happen now’ and ‘what’s going to happen next’. People were coming up with ideas too.
“This is just the start of the process. It has to come from the grassroots within the community.”
Professor Taylor said she spoke about the victims’ feelings of anger, hurt and shame, along with information about what grooming and abuse involves.
“There were people struggling with the confrontational detail I gave.”
She spoke about the “absolute abject immoral failings of the church”.
“There are great priests, great communities, but there have also been mistakes.
“But that doesn’t mean we have to keep living in the past. We need to learn from history, learn where we can make reparations.
“I’d like to see the community develop ideas and plans, to harness the energy and goodwill.”
Professor Taylor said it was important to now put processes in place to ensure the abuse never happened again and to help victims.
“If we have a strong state of community, we can respond better.
“We need to make a blueprint to move forward.”