Child sex abuse victims urged to come forward

IT HAS cast a dark shadow over the lives of many and the depth and breadth of its impact isn’t fully understood. 

Now, Riverina victims of child sexual abuse are being urged to come forward and share their story. 

The Truth Justice Healing (TJH) council was in the city yesterday where it addressed clergy in preparation for the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The TJH council is co-ordinating the Catholic Church’s response to the commission and the Wagga visit was part of a series of meetings across the country.

Chief executive Francis Sullivan said the council aimed to ensure each diocese was ready to provide the documents and information if needed for the royal commission hearing. 

“There’s still a lot of people in the dark about what’s required when the royal commission wants documents, it’s not a simple exercise,” Mr Sullivan said. 

“People here on the ground, schools, parishes and child services are the focus of where documents need to be compiled. 

“The royal commission is about people who are damaged and victims, it gives them an opportunity to get justice. 

“From our perspective that means we co-operate fully, we give them space and take away any barriers to them telling their story.

“We waive all previous confidentiality clauses, provide all the documents requested by the commission and stand ready to explain how things were handled so that the full picture is available for the commissioners to make a determination.”

Mr Sullivan said governments didn’t call royal commissions lightly and it would be an opportunity to expose the depth and breadth of abuse in a transparent manner and the commission was about getting people to tell their story. 

The TJH council oversees the Catholic Church’s engagement with the commission, an inquiry which spans a number of institutions.

Private sessions are already under way across the country in capital cities, with public hearings to begin in October. 

Mr Sullivan couldn’t confirm if a public hearing would be held in Wagga or the Riverina and said most would likely be based in Sydney. 

“You may find they’ll come to regional NSW at some point,” he said. 

A spokesman for the commission said it would aim to cover as much ground as it can and a schedule for public hearings was yet to be finalised.

“We are committed to getting around Australia as much as possible over the life of the royal commission, which could be some years,” the spokesman said. 

“If one person in Wagga wanted to do a private session and the commission didn’t get to Wagga, it will ensure they can get to one. Everyone will be given the chance to tell their story,” he said. 

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