It’s been nearly a year since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and it seems that very little has come out of it. The victims of child abuse, both sexual and non-sexual, have seen very little in return for the high status the inquiry was given. Many victims, and plenty of lawyers as well, have weighed into the debate surrounding what needs to be done and called for equitable compensation for victims. Under any other compensation law in Sydney and around Australia these people would have been compensated, but today they’re still waiting.
Earlier last month approximately a dozen victims and victims advocates protested outside the front of the Department of Human Services in Melbourne calling for a compensation scheme specifically for victims of child abuse. There’s an overwhelming sense that the general Australian public is unaware of what victims of child abuse have gone through and therefore the move for compensation isn’t getting as much support as it could.
The Royal Commission has received a substantial amount of media coverage, particularly in regards to cases of child abuse of up to fifty or more years ago. Since the announcement of the Royal Commission, connections have been made between the allegations of child abuse and what appears to be a long-time cycle of disenfranchisement with victims often suffering from poverty, poor physical or mental health or even all three.
Such a strong correlation between childhood abuse and life-long hardship only goes to show how desperately a scheme for compensation is needed. Years of childhood abuse can leave a person feeling worthless, detached and emotionally unstable. Such issues have a tendency to seep into the individual’s relationships, work life and social life. It is reported that instances of suicide, unemployment and drug abuse are higher amongst victims of clerical childhood sexual or physical assault.
Each individual victim has endured a specific kind of struggle. Some families have lost love ones, some victims have lost jobs and some have simply lost hope, compensation is about atoning for the sins of clerics in the past and acknowledging the damage that has been done to lives of their victims. Compensation for victims of clerical abuse, that is purposefully designed to achieve a better quality of life for those victims, is about the nation, the church and the government apologising to those that suffered and pledging that it will never happen again.