THE state government’s announcement of a parliamentary inquiry into sexual abuse of children in the church received the expected response yesterday.
As this newspaper has suggested before, there is no amount of penalty, retribution or finding that will heal the wounds that remain open even decades after the some of the offences.
While the government said the inquiry would have "broad terms of reference to consider the practices, policies and protocols of religious and other non-government organisations for the handling of allegations of criminal abuse of children by personnel within their organisations", what victim advocates wanted was a royal commission which would provide for extra powers.
While this is a fair complaint, the fact that the Family and Community Development Committee of Parliament will have powers to compel witnesses to attend and give evidence and to summons documents necessary for its deliberations must mean that the church leadership should be expected to face questioning.
Essentially, the government says the inquiry is more about the future than the past - that lessons can be learnt and policies implemented to ensure that the abuse of so many children does not occur again.
Ballarat, which has become the epicentre of identified and alleged abuse of children by members of the Catholic Church, stands to endure more harrowing and confronting stories during the inquiry.
While we remain absolutely determined to see that justice be done, there is also a sense that our city and the church itself is continually damaged by the endless fallout from these despicable acts.
This is the unfortunate reality of a situation which, according to police documents, has cost at least 40 lives and impacted severely on hundreds, maybe thousands, of other direct and indirect victims.
This is the legacy of events which will remain so powerful because the very nature of secrecy which kept the offending hidden at the height of these actions remains so difficult to discuss decades later.
While there is no royal commission, the government inquiry promises to lift the veil which the court system for various reasons has not.
This will be a painful experience for all involved but is necessary to continue to path to healing on even the most broken path.