In a largely unheralded Supreme Court hearing in Melbourne, the next step in a civil legal case between a survivor of cleric sexual abuse and the Ballarat Catholic Diocese, there is a significant precedent set by the admission of liability by the church for this victim.
By contrast to the Pell case which has garnered worldwide attention, this civil case has gone largely unobserved but in some ways it deserves more attention.
If the successful prosecution of the actual offenders was the work of the past decades, (and this is not to say there are not more stories still demanding justice), this less spectacular and more complex civil process represents steps toward a future of achieving some redress for the victims.
In a more general sense it also represents a major opportunity for how the Ballarat community, and more specifically the Catholic Church, can find a way forward from the sordid and abhorrent mess that is the era of clergy sexual abuse.
Outside of this specific case, what we know from the history of this crisis in the church, both in Ballarat and across the world, is after every individual prosecution of a deviant priest or brother multiple more victims have come forward to tell their story. The feeble "few rotten apples" defence has fallen silent before an angry chorus of thousands of survivors and the revelations of cultural and systemic corruption in the church. However this particular case concludes, it is likely to be the beginning not the end.
Full and just compensation for all these victims will likely cost the church millions, if not billions, across the globe. But however severe a blow that is to a two thousand year-old institution, what is the forfeit of any amount of land or revenue compared to the lives that have been lost, both in the appalling swathe of suicides of shattered victims, or those who struggle on, blighted by an inner poison that this despicable cruelty and hypocrisy inflicted on their innocence.
As for the church, any amount of money paid out is a small loss compared to the moral authority that decades of scandal and deceit have trashed.
For many of the survivors this is not about money, it was more about an injustice revealed and righted; the catastrophe of a pernicious culture bolstered by truculent denial that at every step put institutional reputation before empathy.
In another way this case and all those to come could also represent an opportunity; to make restitution for one of the darkest periods in the churches history, certainly in Ballarat.
Perhaps most of all it is a chance to recapture some of that compassion which was meant to be the hallmark of the faith. And out of that, potentially, the whole community can find a way forward on its long road toward healing.