Long history of suffering at Ballarat orphanage

Leonie Sheedy from lobby group Care Leavers Australasia Network at the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse hearing in Ballarat.
Leonie Sheedy from lobby group Care Leavers Australasia Network at the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse hearing in Ballarat.

A leading advocate for survivors of sexual abuse in state care has called for further investigation into incidents of children molested by non-religious paedophiles in Ballarat. 

Leonie Sheedy from lobby group Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) says horrific abuse, which occurred at the hands of staff working at the Ballarat Orphanage, has flown under the radar at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual abuse.

CLAN has helped support abuse survivors from all over Australia give evidence to the child sexual abuse inquiry. 

In 2002 allegations emerged of children at the Ballarat Orphanage being repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted, hit with canes and belts, and locked inside cupboards. 

One of the alleged offenders was a former superintendent of the Ballarat Orphanage, Ms Sheedy said. 

“They were Australia’s throwaway children and they continue to be the invisible people in all of this,” Ms Sheedy said.

“There were a number of perpetrators operating in these homes but the focus has been solely on religious clergy in Ballarat.”

Earlier this week, it was revealed more than 2200 survivors told the inquiry they were sexually abused in Australia’s orphanages or children’s homes.

About 880 victims said the abuse occurred inside government-run institutions.

Children who were abused in out-of-home care made up about 40 per cent of private sessions with the royal commission, the inquiry said. 

It also revealed 361 cases of abuse in out-of-home care had been passed on to police.

Ms Sheedy said she wanted to see a separate investigation into non-religious institutional sexual abuse in Ballarat. 

“There are still so many untold stories and the perpetrators of abuse at places like the Ballarat Orphanage must be held accountable,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the former Ballarat’s Nazareth House Girls’ Home, run by the Sisters of Nazareth has erected a memorial for orphans who lived there between 1889 and 1976. 

It followed allegations of physical, psychological and sadistic sexual abuse of girls living inside the home when it operated as an orphanage.  

The plaque reads: “This plaque is in memory of all the children who were residents at Nazareth House, Ballarat from 1889 to 1976. This tree formed a very important part of their play time and their lives.”

Support is here, if you need it:

To contact CLAN call 1800 008 774.

To contact the Centre Against Sexual Assault located on the corner of Vale and Edwards streets, Sebastopol, call 5320 3933 or free call 24 hours 1800 806 292.

Lifeline can be accessed on 13 11 14.