BALLARAT victims of paedophile Christian Brother Robert Best have heralded the push for compensation after a joint claim was lodged in the Victorian County Court on Wednesday.
The move is the largest legal action of its type and represents the first step in a wave of litigation against the Christian Brothers.
Ballarat East resident Paul Lyons was just nine years old when Best sexually abused him.
“It’s quite an important step applying for compensation and hopefully everybody gets quite a decent amount,” he told The Courier yesterday.
“It would really help to ease the suffering a little bit more, and for all the other victims it will help them get on with their lives.
“Emotionally you’re getting something for your suffering for something that should have never ever happened. The compensation will help to ease the pain but you will never forget what happened.”
Another Ballarat victim, who elected not to be named, said several of Best’s victims needed the money for comprehensive medical treatment.
“If compensation means that these victims can get proper medical treatment – they can afford to go to a doctor and take time off – the potential is to save suicides,” he said.
“These victims and myself have been set back throughout our lives and, though the question of compensation is a difficult one in a legal sense, I want to start healing and I want to get on with my life.
“We’re from Catholic families and we have a right to be treated like Christians.”
The compensation claims were lodged under provisions in the Victorian Sentencing Act, which enable victims to ask the sentencing judge whether that offender should pay them compensation.
Each of the 11 applications asks the judge to weigh up their pain and suffering, past and future medical and like expenses and past and future loss of earnings.
The lawyer for the 11 victims, Vivian Waller, said compensation was critical to help victims heal.
“I don’t think the Catholic Church can continue to write these things off as random rogue acts, it was systemic abuse,” she said.
“They are significant claims for compensation and the abuse by Brother Best has caused significant long-term harm to these applicants. This is just the first step of a wave of litigation against the Christian Brothers.”