Clergy abuse victims are calling for proceeds of a $2.1 million beach house owned by disgraced Catholic bishop Ronald Mulkearns to be used to start a fund to help those still impacted by the scourge of sexual abuse.
The beach house owned by the former bishop at the exclusive Great Ocean Rd enclave of Fairhaven sold at an auction on Saturday.
Mulkearns facilitated the abuse of hundreds of children over decades during his reign as Ballarat bishop. He was the first Ballarat bishop to be denied a crypt burial when he died this year.
Ballarat survivor Peter Blenkiron called for the money to be stored in a trust fund which allowed interest to grow ensuring the funds didn’t dwindle.
“It should be used to start a whole community pot of money,” he said. “This account could be run by medical staff and support workers and could be used for emergency relief fund to help people struggling especially as a result of sexual abuse and mental illness.”
Mr Blenkiron said many survivors struggled to afford basic necessities like groceries and medical costs.
“The Ballarat diocese to their credit is the only diocese that helps with reimbursements of cost associated with abuse and signed off by a health care professional,” he said. “This helps survivors in need but not the wider community who also may hit that need between existing government services.”
Under the terms of the late Mulkearns’ will, the money is to be given to the Ballarat diocese.
Earlier this year, Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird said the funds from Mulkearns' estate would be set aside for assistance to victims of abuse as an "example that other dioceses in Australia can look up to".
Survivor Stephen Woods who was abused by multiple paedophile clergymen from the age of 11, attended the auction.
“Victims continue to suffer from health issues,” Mr Woods said. “The Catholic Church has a duty of care to survivors and their families. This money needs to be transparently handled and clearly accessible to people in most need.”
Another victim Andrew Collins said he wanted to see the funds go towards helping survivors across the Ballarat diocese which extends from Swan Hill to Warrnambool.
“We hope to meet with Bishop Bird to discuss how these funds can best be used and who will have control and oversight of them,” Mr Collins said.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard hundreds of children were molested by paedophile clerics while Mulkearns was bishop of Ballarat from 1971 to 1997. In February, Mulkearns admitted to the inquiry that he had failed as a bishop.
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