Sexual abuse survivors call for full implementation of Betrayal of Trust report

BALLARAT’S clergy sexual abuse survivors want the state government to implement the full Betrayal of Trust report recommendations.

Spokesman Andrew Collins said the government had only introduced measures that were “easy” and did not offend the Catholic church.

Laws introduced on Thursday included minimum child safe standards for organisations with child contact, making religious ministers hold a Working with Children check, setting up a “reportable conduct scheme” in which all abuse allegations are centrally reported, and mandating all schools implement a child abuse allegation response policy.

It follows the introduction of earlier laws prohibiting grooming and penalising people who fail to protect children or inform police about abuse.

Premier Denis Napthine said the government was looking at liability, incorporation, insurance and redress reforms.

“The Coalition government will also make it easier for victims of abuse to access civil remedies by removing inappropriate time limitations and impediments that currently restrict victims’ access to the civil judicial system,” Dr Napthine said.

But Mr Collins said victims were wondering if the plan was to wait until they died off, and abuses were forgotten.

“We beg the government to show real leadership and to put the rest of the recommendations in place, which will set a precedence for other states to follow. No more deaths – put victims first,” he said.

Mr Collins welcomed the requirement for all ministers to have Working with Children checks but said they should never have been exempt.

However, Mr Collins said recommendations not yet acted on included requiring non-government organisations to be incorporated and insured where they received exemptions and ensuring organisations legally has to prevent child abuse.

“The religious bodies are exempt from various taxes and have no entities that can be sued that have assets. This leaves victims at the mercy of the institution’s good grace and ... this is severely flawed and requires victims to go back to the body that abused them.”

Mr Collins welcomed the statute of limitations being amended to exclude child abuse but said, with no relevant entity to sue, the process was useless. He also called for a redress scheme to be put in place immediately.

“The Catholic Church has said that it will pay whatever the government says it has to pay. At very little cost to the taxpayer, a scheme can be put in place that will help survivors stay alive and move towards healing. Without this, there will be further deaths.”

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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