OUTSPOKEN Catholic priest Father Kevin Dillon believes the church has dismally failed victims of child sex abuse.
During a visit to Ballarat on Tuesday, Father Dillon, of Geelong, spoke with members of the Moving Towards Justice group.
Father Dillon believes that the church actively avoidied bringing victims together to support each another.
"There's nothing organised by the church why not?," he said.
More than 150 members and supporters turned up at the Ballarat Specialist School hall for a fund-raising morning tea.
Moving Towards Justice was formed in 2013 as a support group for victims of church sexual abuse.
Father Dillon praised the group for its efforts and called for the Catholic church to take greater responsibility.
"As a church, we have failed these people dismally," he said.
"That is fair dinkum unbelievable, that is appalling."
Moving Towards Justice president Frank Sheehan said that the organisation tried to balance respect for victims with the push for greater public understanding.
"Our prime objective is to maintain respect," Mr Sheehan said.
"But one of the real barriers has been the lack of public belief that such a thing could happen."
The Ballarat region has a troubled history of church abuse.
One perpetrator alone has allegedly boasted he had hundreds of victims, and at least 40 victims have committed suicide.
Moving Towards Justice will continue to support survivors in the local community.
Anyone interested in contacting or donating to Moving Towards Justice should visit the website at www.mtj.net.au.
For 24-hour crisis, information and counselling support, call the national abuse hotline on 1800 737 732.