Finding solace in Loud Fence after the Royal Commission

If there has ever been someone able to appreciate the value of Ballarat’s Loud Fence movement, it’s Helen Watson. 

Ribbons deliver support: Helen Watson continues to find support in the Loud Fence at St Patrick's Cathedral.  Her son Peter was sexually abused.

Ribbons deliver support: Helen Watson continues to find support in the Loud Fence at St Patrick's Cathedral. Her son Peter was sexually abused.

Ms Watson’s son Peter took his own life aged 24 after battling escalating drug and alcohol abuse for years.  He was among a long list of victims of a disgraced pedophile priest, who The Courier has chosen not to name for legal reasons. 

A 15-year-old when abused, the formerly gentle character took a destructive turn which would lead him to make several attempts on his own life.  He went missing in 1999, bu it would take six years for his body to be formally identified.

On Tuesday afternoon Ms Watson was joined by a group of supporters at St Patrick’s Cathedral as she tied ribbons to the Loud Fence movement’s most iconic stretch, just weeks after the church’s ribbons were removed for a second time. 

Ms Watson said she would “defy anyone” to remove the latest installment of hundreds of ribbons which have been tied to the fence along Sturt Street over the past fortnight. 

“I’ve been fighting for almost 20 years to try and get some recognition for Peter and the Royal Commission and the (Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse) both did an excellent job of that,” Ms Watson said.  

“For me to have all these people coming here adds another degree of support and love, and that’s what (the Loud Fence movement) is all about.

“I couldn’t understand a person who would have the ignorance (to cut the ribbons), especially after all the media exposure of the history of the cover-ups in the Catholic Church.”

The Ballarat Catholic Diocese originally removed ribbons from St Patrick’s Cathedral following the release of the Royal Commission’s final report.  A second batch of ribbons were removed in the middle of the night in mid-February, however the church denied any involvement. 

While her son died before having his case heard by police, she has previously been sent a letter of apology from the Catholic Church. 

“The pain doesn’t go away just because the Royal Commission’s finished,” Ms Watson said.   It’s a life sentence for those victims, it’s a life sentence for me and it was a life sentence for my son.”

To contact the Centre Against Sexual Assault call 5320 3933 or free call 24 hours 1800 806 292.