Statement issued by survivors of Catholic child sexual abuse, their families and supporters on the first day of Royal Commission hearings into the catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse:
The children of Australia have long been denied our basic human right to safety.
In order to protect the reputation and assets of wealthy institutions and those who control them, we have been knowingly exposed to terrible danger. We have suffered unbearable pain, and many of us have not survived.
When we begged for help or for justice our voices were ignored.
Those in a position to help us left those responsible for inflicting this harm to “deal with” the crimes committed aginst us.
In doing so they neglected their duty of care to us and to tens of thousands of children of this country over a long period of time.
But now, thanks to the bravery of survivors, insiders in various organisations and the media, speaking out about this issue when no-one wanted to listen, we are here, at last, to witness the truth being told by a few heroic individuals.
As you listen to their experiences, we hope you will gain a greater understanding of the real impact of these crimes, and we ask you to remember also all the others, heard and unheard, who have been through similar pain.
Our stories are hard to hear, but they are even harder to live, and immensely difficult to tell.
We tell them so that future children will not be callously exposed to danger, as we were.
We ask you to open your hearts and your minds to the suffering of so many Australian children, and in doing so secure the right to safety for future generations of children.
We ask that those responsible be held responsible. We ask that those accountable be held to account.
We ask for laws that protect children rather than predators, and we ask that they be enforced uniformly, that no person or institution be considered above the law.
We ask that all children be offered the same protection, no matter where they live, who their parents are, or what they believe.
We ask you not to be swayed by comforting but meaningless promises of change by institutions proven to continually lie about this issue.
We call on all State and Federal Governments to express support for and move towards implementing the recommendations of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry. We ask that this become the bedrock of child protection and justice for survivors in Australia, a solid foundation upon which the Royal Commission, with its more extensive investigations and recommendations, can build.
But most of all, we who know first hand what it is to be abused, abandoned and to live in constant fear, beg the Royal Commission, the media, our politicians, and the public to remember this is not about point scoring, or reputations, or power. It is most definitely not about religion. Or politics.
This is about living in a safe and just society.
This is about protecting children.