Child abuse survivors fear new laws may never come to fruition

CHILD abuse survivors who suffered torment at the hands of two depraved Riverina priests are worried “community fatigue” will hinder the potential for new laws. 

Victims and law reform advocates fear the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse could be over-saturating paedophilia and causing the public to lose interest. 

After spending nearly 50 years wrestling with her traumatic past, former Wagga woman Gina Swannell took a brave stance and revealed her “filthy” secret to police commissioners in 2013.

She publicly spoke about the alleged abuse she suffered as a six-year-old at the hands of priest Father Charles Holdsworth at Urana’s St Francis Xavier boarding school.

Now the whistle blower is concerned that years of on-going exposure has caused the movement to lose intensity. 

“I’m definitely worried that a lot of the focus is being lost as time wears on,” she told The Daily Advertiser. 

It has almost been four years since the commission launched and we still haven’t seen great change that will protect children in the future.”

She claims Father Holdsworth, who was killed in a car accident 47 years ago, molested her and forced her to watch him masturbate on multiple occasions in the church confessional box.

The Royal Commission is investigating how institutions like schools, churches and sporting groups responded to allegations of child sexual abuse.

Victims hope the findings of the commission will lead to new legislation, forcing institutions to take immediate action when they receive word of abuse. 

Evidence was last week given to a Newcastle hearing that high ranking Anglican church officials were made aware of historic abuse but did not pass the information on to police.

Former Wagga and Temora woman Beth Heinrich is among those who have been following the proceedings with great interest. 

Ms Heinrich in 2005 revealed she had been sexually abused when she was a 14-year-old in a Forbes Anglican Church hostel by then assistant priest Donald Shearman.

She has to wear a mouth guard continuously to prevent the tension in her jaw from destroying her teeth, which she attributes to her troubled history.

“The pressure needs to stay strong or nothing will ever change,” she said. 

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