VICTIMS of child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy have said the public would be shocked at what comes out of the parliamentary inquiry into the abuse announced by the state government yesterday.
Ballarat resident Paul Lyons, who was abused by Christian Brother Robert Best when he was nine years old, said he had been waiting decades for the truth come out.
Yesterday, he told The Courier he was thankful action was finally being taken.
“Of course I’m happy. I do want it to go ahead because the public have a right to know what’s been going on behind closed doors,” he said.
“The truth must come out because it’s overwhelming how many paedophile priests and Christian Brothers there are. The public will definitely be shocked once they get all the information out of the priests.”
Rob Walsh, who was abused by Best and Father Gerald Ridsdale and testified against them in court, said the announcement represented a key moment for victims.
“After campaigning for so long we welcome this news and we will be monitoring the inquiry,” he said.
“The church won’t be able to get away with hiding or obscuring evidence and we’ll be making sure of that.”
Mr Walsh’s brothers Damien and Noel Walsh, and cousin Martin Walsh were among 40 suicide victims linked to sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
“(The inquiry) won’t bring back lives, obviously, but I think it will save lives,” he said.
“The truth is very very important to these victims and it’s important that their voices are heard.”
Like Mr Lyons and Mr Walsh, Stephen Woods was a student at St Alipius Christian Brothers School in the 1970s and testified against Best last year.
“I’m overjoyed that it’s happening, finally it’s here,” Mr Woods said about the inquiry. “The terms of reference are critical and the fact that they can compel evidence to be given is great.”
Mr Woods urged victims to make the most of the opportunity to tell their stories.
“I so implore (victims) that this is their time ... this is what the struggle has been for.
“I hope the public are shocked and horrified at what has been allowed to be perpetrated, what has been covered up over the years, and the amount of pain and horror so many people have had to endure.”