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Nov 12, 2012

Why a royal commission into Catholic child abuse is necessary

A royal commission into child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is the only mechanism that will provide full justice for victims. But politicians will be reluctant to start it.


In what is, these days, a rare display of bipartisanship, both major parties are running from the idea of a federal royal commission into the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse of children, its cover-up of crimes and protection of child abusers.

Undoubtedly many people calling for a royal commission are doing so because they believe it will damage an institution much reviled by progressives, regardless of whether it will assist victims of child abuse and bring the perpetrators and their protectors to justice.

But the case for a federal royal commission is compelling.

Under the Howard government, royal commissions were innately political. That government launched an investigation of the construction industry as part of its war on trade unions in 2001, justified by John Howard on the basis that “there have been many detailed allegations involving intimidation, involving standover tactics, involving threats of force and violence” (observations that might equally apply to what many churchmen did to children).

Later, mired in allegations of corruptions over AWB, Howard was forced to call a pseudo-royal commission into the wheat bribery scandal, carefully limited to make sure it couldn’t examine corruption by his ministers or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Political pressure also forced him to call one into the HIH collapse, albeit on the pretext of legal advice that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission had a conflict of interest.

Traditionally, however, royal commissions — think Aboriginal deaths in custody, or British nuclear tests, or the Stewart and Costigan royal commissions — dealt with matters beyond the remit of the criminal justice system, government policies that in retrospect were profoundly wrong or that reflected such systemic and pervasive wrongdoing that the criminal justice system was inadequate to the task of effectively investigating it. State-level royal commissions have similarly focused on issues that reflect such extensive and systemic problems that regular institutions are unable to cope with the task of investigating them, frequently because key institutions such as police forces were at the centre of them.

This history provides the core reasons why a federal royal commission, or inquiry with royal commission-like powers, is the only appropriate mechanism for addressing child abuse by the Catholic Church.

1. Existing institutions are not up to the task. The criminal justice system can only prosecute individual incidences, or individual perpetrators, of abuse. The institutional arrangements that enabled the cover-up of offences and the protection of offenders is beyond the direct scope of trials of paedophiles. Moreover, the criminal justice system, with its focus on prosecution, creates an adversarial environment that is confronting and painful for victims. A royal commission, which specifically cannot make judicial findings about individuals, can provide a more comfortable environment for abuse victims to tell their stories.

And existing state inquiries, such as the Victorian parliamentary inquiry and the newly-announced NSW inquiry into child abuse in the Hunter region, are ultimately ill-equipped to deal with an international institution. The Catholic Church operates on a global level, able to transfer paedophiles and their protectors out of jurisdictions — whether regional or national — where their activities have come under scrutiny, and operating under instruction from a controlling entity that poses as a nation-state, the Vatican.

2. The Commonwealth and other governments have subsidised offending institutions. The Commonwealth and state government, via the tax-exempt status of religious institutions, funding for Catholic schools and contractual relationships in areas like employment services, have subsidised the institutions in which child abuse, and the protection of paedophiles, has occurred. Any royal commission must address the sources of financial support for processes of abuse facilitation, including government funding.

3. It is the culture of abuse and cover-up that must be investigated. While existing processes and cases focus on individuals — the offenders, those who protected them or, from a media standpoint, high-profile church leaders like George Pell — the issue of most relevance to victims and their families is surely not merely bringing offenders to justice, but investigating the institutional culture that facilitated abuse and its cover-up, including the refusal to take victims seriously and identifying the systemic causes of it, rather than focusing on any single individual.

An inquiry such as a royal commission, which specifically lacks a determinative power such as that possessed by judicial bodies, is much better placed to explore cultural and systemic issues than courts, which focus on single instances. Without an inquiry into the “abusegenic” culture of the Catholic Church, there can ultimately be no full justice for its victims; the account of what happened to tens of thousands of people at the hands of paedophiles, and then the insult of having their abusers protected, will remain only partial.

A federal royal commission or royal commission-like inquiry is the only mechanism that will be able to provide some sense of justice and comfort to victims. But it won’t be a rapid process. The Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was established in 1999 and didn’t issue its mammoth, and truly sickening, report until 2009. That inquiry had wide-ranging terms of reference and dealt with institutional arrangements in which the Catholic Church was far more deeply embedded than in Australia. But nonetheless, major royal commissions in Australia have a history of being repeatedly extended, and it is unlikely this would be any different.

However, it is likely major party politicians will remain reluctant to support a royal commission. That probably reflects not so much any sectarian bias as an unwillingness to confront an institution that, for most politicians and particularly House of Representatives MPs, is one they deal with on a routine basis as part of their electoral duties. It also reflects the simple political equation that the victims of abuse are relatively politically powerless, while the institution that abused them remains a potent political foe if roused. It takes a lot for justice to trump political calculation.


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77 thoughts on “Why a royal commission into Catholic child abuse is necessary

  1. Holden Back

    There is a sense in which a Royal Commission could clear the air for the Catholic church at a grassroots level. How can individual, blameless priests stand in their communities with any certainty they are not now considered potential predators, or part of the conspiracy to shield these people from exposure? The good people in these roles deserve better than to have this stench of suspicion billowing around them.

  2. Liz45

    The fact is that the catholic church is NOT conducting itself as a responsible ‘citizen’ of the country. We’re all aware of the lack of concern for victims is still NOT a priority. We also know that the main issue for the perpetrators and the hierarchy is to avoid the legal system that the rest of us MUST abide! I find it reprehensible that the police are still finding a ‘brick wall’ when investigating these horrific crimes.

    If ANY other organisation was behaving in this disgraceful manner, there’d have been screams of outrage before this. How many peoples’ lives have been destroyed by these horrific abuses; how many victims will be driven to suicide, not only due to their traumatic abuse, but by society’s inability to champion on their behalf. It is mind boggling to say the least. It’s not as though the catholic church does NOT know of how these abuses affect people – they know! But to their shame, they have chosen to ignore the truths.

    How many deaths by suicide do we have to hear of. How many stories of abuse so violent and destructive must victims speak out about in the hope that SOME responsible government or police body will take seriously.

    I find it disgusting, that as an ‘ordinary’ member of this country, if I omitted to pass on information about a crime already committed, or indeed of a planned crime, and not inform the police, I am deemed as guilty as those who performed the act/s, and punished accordingly – even with a custodial sentence! Why has the Catholic Church and others been allowed to blatantly abuse our justice system.

    Moreover, the brave Detective Inspector, Peter Fox, who came out on Lateline and asserted of police people’s attempts to silence him deserves our gratitude. Thanks to him and his determination to tell the truth, the Federal Govt may be forced to initiate a long overdue Royal Commission. I hope I don’t hear any of the worn out platitudes re protecting peoples’ privacy etc. We all know that’s a euphanism for ‘we’re too gutless to do anything’ response’

    Isn’t it telling that Cardinal Pell has chosen to keep his mouth shut! Too many of us know of the disgraceful role that he has played for decades. Too many of us know the role the present Pope played for 25 years (at least) by covering up the horrific abuse perpetrated by pedophile priests who (allegedly) r***d little girls as young as 5 yrs old – not to mention the numbers of boys who also suffered awful crimes while young – and some were r***d for years!

    I personally know of four people who were sexually abused as young children or adolescents. Too many of us know of people who were abused. None of these people have complained about their abuse. As a person raised a catholic, there’s no way I’ll ever kneel in front of a priest ever again (for this and other reasons – misogynist attitudes also). I know of many others who feel the same way. ‘Ordinary’ catholics must demand justice for victims. Their silence only protects the perpetrators! Shame on them too!

  3. Edward James

    What is growing from the rejection of the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell watered down inquiry. Is being driven by victims and picked up by political opportunist. The Newcastle Herald site crashed for almost an hour earlier today. I have no doubt because the grass roots community of victims and families of victims who are up on their hind legs and shouting the SP! Edward James

  4. Steve777

    Well said Bernard and Holden.

  5. Edward James

    Benard While I can’t actually reject this from you; Undoubtedly many people calling for a royal commission are doing so because they believe it will damage an institution much reviled by progressives,. I will point out the calls from victims of institutionalized pedophile activity for a Royal Commission is being driven by people many of whom are politically ignorant. Starting out with those in and around Newcastle Maitland and out lying areas after the suicide of Mr Pirona. What Barry O’Farrell has offered to diffuse the growing calls for a wide ranging Royal commission is like a slap in the face of disenfranchise victims and their families. NSW parliament has attempted to open another information black hole. It should be rejected in the strongest term by everyone with an entitlement to vote. More importantly every one of our elected representatives should be overtly supporting the peoples public calls for a Royal Commission, nationally would be better but NSW will suit me just fine. Edward James 2 10

  6. gerard

    Royal Commissions have a somewhat dubious history. They are expensive and often are not empowered to enforce the directions or outcomes. Much better to charge all those involved quickly and judiciously in a Court of Law.
    In the meantime close those religious organisations that have been flouting the law so often and for so many years. Close Saint Mary’s Cathedral and charge Cardinal Pell for a start.

  7. beachcomber

    Will an Abbott Federal Government be the one forced to call a Royal Commission? He could avoid the difficulties that would pose for himself by calling for Gillard to start one now. Apart from being the right thing to do, it would tell voters that he understands the problem, and that as PM he would not be beholden to anyone.

  8. Edward James

    I think I understand the point you make Bernard with your last paragraph; It also reflects the simple political equation that the victims of abuse are relatively politically powerless, while the institution that abused them remains a potent political foe if roused. It takes a lot for justice to trump political calculation. People in my community have tasted political blood. After being encouraged to rise up get on board a supplied bus to state parliament. Winning the return of our “stolen” Rehabilitation amenity to Woy Woy Public Hospital on our Woy Woy Peninsula. I believe the Newcastle Herald on line site crashed because we the peoples are beginning to understand we give direction. Political allsorts who think they can simply refuse to take our electronic directions are on the way out! Edward James 2 32

  9. zut alors

    I can understand Mr Rabbott running from it but the PM has no vested interests in any church – consequently she’s in a position to view the Royal Commission proposal objectively.

    So, what gives…?

  10. The diving swan

    Surely it is a no brainer for the Federal Government to have a Royal Commission? What could work better than Abbott and the Parrot opposing it and being wedged by it. Can’t they get the independents to force them into convening one?

  11. Edward James

    The way our all our political allsorts Federal, State and Local dance for us. Is entirely dependent on the tune we the peoples, their constituents play. The plane flying over Newcastle on the weekend with the banner trailing behind asking readers to call for a Royal commission is there for all to see including political allsorts and understand, because we the peoples are over the political delays, while people die. Here is the link for concerned people and more importantly relatives of victims to get overtly involved http://www.theherald.com.au/story/948241/church-sex-victims-want-investigation/?cs=311
    Edward James 3 20

  12. NeoTheFatCat

    It is interesting to see the Church’s response completely avoid Fox’s key allegations. As I understand it, the issue at hand is not that abuse of children has occurred, but that the Church has actively prevented or hampered police investigations.

    The Church’s response is:

    1. child abuse is not limited to the Catholic church,
    2. the abuse was all in the past,
    3. in any case, there is no single Catholic church but a variety of dioceses and other organisations reporting to Rome.

    Notice how they are trying to divert the argument away from the alleged cover-up, and back on to the issue of the child abuse itself – where we can all agree it is horrific, perpetrators should be charged, blah blah blah.

    We need to keep the focus on the cover-ups.

  13. CML

    @ zut alors – While the PM doesn’t have a direct vested interest in this whole abominable business, the “faceless men” who put her there, DO. Think about Shorten, Farrell, a lot of sitting MP’s and many of the NSW Labor right. All take their orders from George Pell – pillars of the RC church, so to speak. If Gillard wants to stay in her current position, then she will do as she is told. Totally appalling, but that is where we have come to, I believe.
    As far as the Royal Commission is concerned, it should be national for a start. Also, it should be widened to include ALL charities, religions and organisations who have as part of their remit, the care of children. While the Catholics are “flavour of the month”, there are many, many other stories of child abuse from all kinds of places. I do NOT in any way seek to downplay the role of the Catholic church – merely to point out that child victims everywhere deserve the opportunity for justice. If we are going to have a Royal Commission, then let it be an all encompassing one.
    However, I have my doubts that the rich, famous and powerful will ever agree to it getting off the ground. We shall see!

  14. JMNO

    I think the Catholic Church needs the cathartic Royal Commission for its own sake as well as for its victims, the good priests and all the parishioners. The bits that are rotten, hidden, and defensive need to be blown open and exposed to light so they can be cleansed and renewed. The Church will have no credibility as a moral and spiritual authority until that happens.

  15. Damian Lloveda

    Its pretty fundamentally clear that if you force a human (animal)to abstain from s-xual activities and to go against our inherent instinctual humanistic desire they will ‘sin’ in the most heinous manner. Power is all consuming and corrupting, isn’t it all the more evidenced in matters such as this. This isn’t one diocese, one country nor one hierarchy ‘accused’. There are thousands of cases, thousands of examples the world throughout. How one can stand in the face of it all and listen to them ‘preach the word of god’ is just absolutely nonsensical. How can this institution get away with all this, there is a fundamental stench in western democracies, that of a non-separation of church and state.
    Great points Bernard with a strong neutral scent of impartiality. Difficult in the face of the demons inside each and every one of us sinners, born faulty – in need of repentment.

  16. Mark from Melbourne

    This is a blight on our society which goes beyond the Catholic church although obviously it still has significant questions to answer and wrongs to right.

    Too little has been done for too many years to protect our children and vulnerable citizens. Not sure if a Royal Commission into all institutionalised child abuse (or support of abusers) is the best way to proceed but I’ve yet to hear a better one.

    Bring it on and soon and let’s be done with this evil.

  17. Dan Cass

    I’m no lawyer, but from reading Geoffrey Robertson QC’s excellent ‘The Case of the Pope’, it seems to me that a Royal Commission is a necessary step, but won’t be sufficient, because of the Holy See’s status as a defacto nation state.

    This status was granted by Mussolini (thus neatly evading Godwin’s Law) in the Lateran Treaty (1929).

    It means that the Vatican gets to use diplomatic immunity as the ultimate protection against state apparatuses such as Royal Commissions.

    The sufficient resolution of the Catholic Church’s sexual violence crimes will have to involve removing it from the UN system, or at least clarifying that it does not have the rights and privileges of an independent nation state.

    The alternative solution is far more adverse to the Church.

    It is to accept the Vatican’s insistence on state rights, and treat it appropriately, as a criminal, pariah state.n’s insistence on state rights, and treat it appropriately, as a criminal, pariah state.

  18. Shaniq'ua Chardonnay

    Yes a royal commission is needed. I would also add that I find the ‘outsourcing’ of social services to religious and semi-religious organisations to be a policy fraught with inherent dangers.

  19. Edward James

    The real hot spot is the Newcastle Herald on line
    While another suicide has set this off. Every person who has been sexually abused and their families and supporters have a civic duty to rise up and dictate the tune we want our politicians to dance to on our behalf. It will always be up to us to direct our elected reps to do what we want, or be booted. Edward James

  20. Edward James

    Link to Newcastle Herald http://www.theherald.com.au/news/ i forgot to submit it at 3 51 pm

  21. Venise Alstergren

    Before reading the article……””Venise Alstergren
    Posted Monday, 12 November 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    There was an infamous crook called John Wren who used to say that the only use for a Royal Commission was to clear the guilty. HOWEVER, the fact that a RC can access information from interstate and federally is an enormous step forward.

    There is a way to stop the dog collarariat. En masse the taxpayer should protest to the government against the whopping amount of funds going to prop up a crooked religious organisation.

    The one bit of good to come out of all this is George Pell’s campaign to become the next pope will hit a brick wall. Not because of the thousands of small children sodomised by the Catholic priests. It will be because it was under his watch the whole thing became public.””

  22. Liz45

    @Damian Lloveda – I disagree with you re the celibacy aspect. There are many men who for one reason or another don’t have a sexual partner – they don’t go out abusing kids or r****g women! To suggest such a thing is an indictment on those decent and honourable men. Pedophiles are ONLY attracted to children. They believe that children are sexual beings, and many do NOT believe that they’re doing anything wrong! I won’t call them ‘sick’ as I think that almost explains their behaviour?

    Noticed how quiet Pell and Abbott are? So much for leadership? As I’ve said earlier, those who remain silent are just as bad as the perpetrators! Disgraceful!

    @Dan Cross – Wasn’t that book interesting? Disturbing but very enlightening indeed! I was shocked to read that even as recent as a few years ago, the Pope sent a letter to every bishop about the ‘importance’ of loyalty to the church etc. This is the type of thing that needs to be brought to the public’s attention.

    As for someone saying that these crimes happened years ago. They should speak to those tortured people whose lives are still ruined – 50+ years later! The priest who r***d those little girls had been abusing kids since the 1940’s? 60 years! How many victims did he have? How many times was he moved? How many priests are being protected in Rome?

    While other religions and organisations have had people who preyed on kids, the overwhelming culprits are catholic priests and other clergy – brothers etc. And they have top billing in respect of how far they’ll go to intimidate victims into silence by paying ‘shut up’ money – in return for a vow of silence! They had no right to do it in the past, and from what we now know, they’re still doing it!

    Those little girls I referred to were taken by that priest out of their class rooms (a catholic school with nuns). Why did those women allow those kids to go with said priest without asking questions? He allegedly had an unused ‘room’ on the school premises! How on earth was that allowed to happen. The nuns didn’t spill the beans – a brave young man initiated the public being informed. The parents of those girls almost breathed a sigh of thankfulness that it was a boy who’d been abused. The mother felt ashamed later, but it’s easy to understand isn’t it? Momentarily feeling relief that her daughters were ok! She co wrote a book called, ‘Hell on the way to Heaven’? It’s most revealing about Pell! The role he allegedly played was nothing short of diabolical – to say the least! Put Chris Foster or the title into your search engine. She and her husband have been agitating for an Inquiry for years. They’re often in the news from Victoria! Brave people indeed!

    @Edward James – Indeed! As someone famously said once “It’s Time”!

  23. Edward James

    Yes George Pell certainly owns this result of failure to act in the best interest of his flock! Edward James 4 36

  24. Edward James

    What a surprise http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/dont–confine-child-abuse-inquiry-to-catholic-church-abbott-20121112-2976e.html
    Tony Abbott says the Coalition would support a government-backed royal commission into child sexual abuse, providing it inquires beyond the Catholic Church.
    His move came as former prime minister Kevin (Heiner) Rudd said he backed calls for a royal commission on child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church if state inquiries required bolstering. Talk about johnny come latleys Edward James rudd has unanswered question relating to the destruction of documents about to come up under consideration again in december again in december Oh the technogly ahd ucked me again!!!!

  25. Anne Cooper

    I wonder where this will end. Certainly it must affect Pell, not only because of his own history. But this, along with the St Johns college uproar and Barbara Ramjan’s defamation matter soon to become public will also hurt Tony Abbott. Surely fatally.

  26. Edward James

    Seriously Mr Kean Kevin heiner Rudd is still wandering around with people proclaiming he is prime minister material. And you over paid typist call yourselves journalist! Edward James 0243419140

  27. Tom

    So as far as finding the truth, accountability and responsibility are concerned, it’s not just Rupert Murdoch that has those in a position to do something about this horrible mess so frightened as to do nothing in fear of political retribution?

    Think I’m going to puke.

  28. Venise Alstergren

    It seems as if this grotesque situation with the catholic priests will continue for the simple expediency of votes. Julia Gillard, atheist, is terrified of losing the Catholic vote. Ted Baillieu, Premier of Victoria, perennial chicken, only won the last state election by one vote. Namely, the NCP vote as delivered by the devoutly Catholic leader of the Victorian Country Party and Deputy Premier of Victoria, Peter Ryan.

    Ideally, the nation’s taxpayers would stage a massive protest and refusal to pay their taxes which support the Catholic church and its licensed brain-washing schools, until such time as a royal commission was held.

    The only reason the Pope can continue to ignore the laws which bind other people to front up to the legal process when accused of wrong doing, is because of a squalid deal done between Mussolini and Pope Pious IX in 1929-known as the Lateran Treaty.

    “”It had little to do with permitting the church to accomplish its world-wide moral mission: Mussolini needed the pope to secure the electoral hegemony of fascism in Italy and the Pope was happy to agree in order additionally to secure the church’s hold over Italian Catholic youth.””
    (Geoffrey Robertson QC) ‘The Case of the Pope, London 2010’

    As a result of the Lateran Treaty the Pope has been able to be called a Head of State (of the Vatican). Presumably an attack on the Pope’s priests also has come to be regarded as an attack on a head of state. “”But upon the Vatican’s claim to have more than just ‘international personality’ and to be a fully-fledged state, much depends. It brings many advantages, two of them especially prized: sovereign immunity for itself and its head in respect of any legal action, and direct access to the United Nations….”” (Ibid 63 ff)

    Upon the above actions the catholic church has been able to prevent undue examination from outside. Many countries do not exchange ambassadors with the Vatican. Australia, naturally, does so.

    Hopefully some of the above explains the special hold the catholic church has on the so-called secular nation of Australia. Not to mention the grudging agreement of State’s premiers to pursue limited investigation of this mass crime against humanity. However, the chances of a royal commissin are indeed limited.

  29. Venise Alstergren

    HOLDEN BACK: How can any priest be totally blameless? Certainly, many priests have not been involved with paedophilia. However, what priest has been totally ignorant of a practice as widespread as this? (and as ancient)

  30. beachcomber

    It’s reported elsewhere now that Abbott agrees a Royal Commission is needed. Miracles do happen.

  31. Andrew Watkins

    Essential to have Royal Commission, if only for ability to force testimony under oath and to ensure properly competent investigation and cross-examination.

    Needs obviously to include evidence of abuse, individual cases and overall pattern

    MUST include really forensic examination of those who have covered it up, including access to the paper trail

    Must also include examination of structures used to limit liability – for, example, priests are not employees of the Church in a legal sense, so there is wiggle room about liability. Should any liability be established the legal structures are such that the liability of the Church as a whole is limited and one can end up attempting to get compensation from a “straw man”.

    Other manouevres can be even more interesting, such as the suggestion by former head of Doctrine for the Congregation of the Faith ( now in another job ) to the American bishops that any papers that were better not seen should be lodged with the Nuncio in Washington to allow a claim of diplomatic immunity ( documented in Geoffrey Robertson’s rather good book on the issue)

  32. Liz45

    Breaking News! The PM has just announced a Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children in Australia! YES!

    Leadership at last! I wait for those who’ll criticise her for political point scoring! I wonder how long it will take! We could take bets? Typical isn’t it? For years there’s been traumatized people begging for action, and it takes a female PM to rise to the challenge! Well done Julia, I say! I await the details with interest!

    The positive is, that out of the heartbreak and obvious misery and pain to arise when people tell their stories, the rest of us can merge together in support and show compassion and empathy to the victims! This goes beyond political affiliations I believe! This is about righting awful and terrible wrongs! And bringing a sense of justice to the victims and their families!

  33. rummel

    Well, PMJG has called a royal commission.

  34. Edward James

    The people have prevailed over politicians who have sat and absorbed their earnest complaints for decades while doing absolutely nothing. Review the Newcastle Herald strings and Melbourne Age for some guidance as to where the “backbone” for these politicians came from! Edward James 7 4

  35. AR

    As much as I loathe religion & its perpetrators it is a distraction to blame celibate men in dresses for the abuse when, as Nixon (and every other authority brought to book)demonstrated, it is the cover-up and the wilful blindness of those who know that is the real canker in society.
    As long as the majority of people show the originality & cohesion of slime mould, those with the wit and lack of ethical roots to exploit obedience will always come out on top.
    A mob/grou/society is always less than the sum of its parts.

  36. Graeboy

    Bernie you pushed the print button a bit quick as by 5.45PM PMJG did the job at last

  37. Achmed

    Finally a Govt that has the courage to do something.


    Our ‘childless’ PM is going to defend the rights of children from institutional r-apists. Hallelujah!

    Meanwhile, there are quite a few politicians who should just die of shame.

    Let’s see the puss squeezed out of this pedo ring. It’s not before time.

  39. Joel

    One of the other things that needs to be achieved by this now-announced royal commission is to probe further up the chain into those involved in covering up and hiding the perpetrators. They must also face criminal justice.

  40. Liz45

    Anyone watch Lateline? Fr Frank Brennan related an experience he had when in Rome at the Vatican. He went with two American Jesuit priests. While they were there one of the priests commented…’see that priest beside the Pope, if he was in the US he’d be in jail’? This only happened in the recent past! So the covering up for these monsters goes right to the top as we know – just one more confirmation of it.

    Those who assert that the catholic church not be singled out, or have excessive emphasis placed on it should know, that the senior police person in Victoria? asserted that there’s 6 times as many catholic priests as predators than any other organisation – church one I believe!

    The other fact is, almost every story I’ve heard in recent times has the perpetrator as a catholic priest or clergy. In fact, this evening, a Brother and lay teacher at a school have been arrested and charged with criminal offences, and there could be more! The stories just keep on happening, and most involve members of this church. I’ve also heard that the number of priests could be one in 15?

    Abbott had nothing to say until the last minute? Then, he didn’t go before the media, but via a press release? How disgusting is that? Barnaby Joyce’s response was also pathetic. They’re more concerned that the catholic church could be the major guilty party than they are about the victims! How disgusting! The journalist should’ve asked Joyce why the Howard Govt did nothing – nearly 12 years of inaction?

    Do people remember the Judge in NSW who committed suicide in the 90’s? Before then? There was a strong hint that he could’ve been part of a pedophile ring? I think the RC should include not only clergy, institutions (orphanages etc), sporting bodies, police officers, but the judiciary as well! It could go on for years! Perhaps it will be divided into different parts? So it doesn’t get bogged down? Have a plan!

  41. CML

    The hero in all this is Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox. He risked everything to achieve a Royal Commission for the victims. Gillard risked nothing. But fortunately for her, the “faceless men” who back her (all Catholics), had nowhere to go given the public reaction to Peter Fox’s open letter to the NSW Premier and subsequent appearances on ABC’s Lateline.
    Credit where credit is due, I say!

  42. mikeb

    Well done JG and the Govt. Also good to see that the RC is not limited to one particular church. My male best friend was molested by a serial molester at a public school. The offender was apparently well known at the time but nothing was done. Times have changed fortunately but the air needs to be cleared and the crimes confirmed and acknowledged. Until that happens the 99% of priests and boy scout volunteers and etc etc who are blameless will have a smear of doubt hanging over them.

  43. Mike Flanagan

    I do agree that Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox should be applauded for his dogged determination and impact on bringing these people to the public’s disgrace and perhaps georgie pell, the frocked magician and clown extraordinaire, should nominate him for a papal knighthood.

  44. Holden Back

    @Venise there are a number reason why some priests – particularly parish priests – would have little knowledge of abuse or its perpetrators and not be able to act on it in a timely fashion. Firstly, that there is a lag time between the abuse and reporting, secondly that the orders send their members around of their own accord, and operate internationally outside the parochial system.

  45. Madonna

    @Holden Back, I understand your well -meaning intentions. I agree, not all priests are paedophiles and I’m sure the public’s able to discern this and not label all priests paedophiles.
    This Royal Commission isn’t about protecting priests ego’s, it’s about exposing law breakers and those who knowingly protect them.
    It’s about accountability for generations of sexual abuse within these organisations.
    It’s about shining a spotlight on predators shielded by these organisations.
    It’s about persons of interest who engaged in criminal acts on vulnerable children unable to defend themselves against these predators.
    It’s about the years of abuse suffered as a consequence and living with the psychological trauma or not (suicide)!
    And it’s not only the Catholic Church in question.
    I was told by my mother earlier this year of a previously convicted paedophile in a Pentecostal church on the north side of Brisbane. He was given duties minding children while their parents attended the service unbeknown to them of his ‘former life’! I was outraged by this fact and voiced my concerns to my mother at the pastor’s lack of judgement and misplaced trust! Apparently he thought now the paedophile was seeking God then it would be okay and he wasn’t a threat.
    The group think is a little water over the head (baptism) or a good dunking is going to renew the man and make him born again into a new person! I doubt that.
    I phoned my brother today; he told me he no longer attends that congregation but had sent a letter and approached the pastor with his concerns.The child minder was changed. The pastor,who was apparently touchy ‘feely’ with women in the congregation has moved on and no longer preaches at the church.

  46. Edward James

    Yeldham. Gassed himself.

  47. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: Yep, I saw Father Brennan on Lateline. No one should be fooled by his apparent frankness. He has said he would rather go to jail than report abuse coming from the confessional. Obviously jail is too good for the man.

    Meanwhile, in sunny Victoria, our gutless premier, Ted Baillieu, has already capitulated to the Catholic Church by stating that the confessional shall be exempt from mandatory reporting.

    Attitudes like these will prove to be a roadblock on any royal commission.

  48. Holden Back

    Madonna – it’s not priests’ egos, it’s about a public trust which has now been broken. If people of good faith cannot place that trust in someone who works hard at doing good in their community because of the behaviour of predators elsewhere, something precious is lost to all.

  49. Holden Back

    Oh, and I’m an atheist,(and definitely not of the lapsed Catholic variety).

  50. One Redfox

    All a Royal Commission will do is give time for the Church to negotiate a deal with the Authorities, whilst giving those same Authorities time to negotiate a deal with the Church. In the 21st Century it’s time to make churches AND Government Authorities accountable and take responsibility for their deceitful and protectionist behaviour. This proposed Royal Commission will do little by way of justice to the majority of victims, as it will do little of any substance in making the Church more accountable in the eyes of the Law. As Charities are exempt from taxes the Church is exempt from the Law that applies to any other criminal behaviour.

  51. Liz45

    VENISE – Pell is on ABC PM at the moment. I find him just as repugnant as usual – and mischievously ‘in denial’? Chris and Anthony Foster (Victoria) were also on channel 9 News. As you know they lost one daughter through suicide and the other one attempted (perhaps) and was struck by a car. she’ll need help and care forever. When I read Chris’s book she said that the only thing her daughter remembers is the horrific abuse from a little girl. What a nightmare! Their youngest daughter escaped, but has obviously been affected by the trauma in the household!

    The Church, particularly those criminals who abuse children know that if caught out, the perpetrator only has to own up in the confessional and that’s where it stays. The ‘need’ for his ‘immortal soul’ via forgiveness etc is paramount – and to hell with the victim/s! This makes it easier for those in authority to skim over every individual case.

    I saw Frank Brennan on Lateline, and quite frankly felt like you. He also irritated me to death by smiling – obviously due to his media training I thought, but it wasn’t a topic to bring about smiles. I was disgusted! I kept telling him to wipe the smile off his face!!!

    Inspector Fox’s opinons/experiences are not in the dim distant past – they’re happening now! That’s why he took the risk and spoke out a week or so ago. The head of police in Victoria made very blunt and accusatory statements to the Inquiry to the Victorian Parlt.

    It amazes me that so-called men like Ted Baillieu can even contemplate allowing the cc to continue behind the confessional. I try and think of how terrifying for a little child to be r***d and it freezes me with the horror and pain of it. I just don’t understand. I really don’t!Less than a week ago a man was charged with r****g a 2 year old tiny girl, and videoed it! Mind numbing horror!

    There was a man on channel 9 news who was just crying really hard, and I started too. He was a man in his 50’s at least, who was overwhelmed by the knowledge of being able to tell his story to people who’ll listen. How can others be so callous? Chris Foster said that Pell was cold and callous when shown a photo of her beautiful daughter who suicided. He showed that same callous attitude on the news. Let’s see how he goes after many people have told their horrific stories!

  52. Madonna

    @Holden Back – your religious persuasion or not is irrelevant.
    @ Liz, I wasn’t aware the confessional was off limits…then what’s the point of a Royal Commission! That’s part of the cover up!

  53. Madonna

    @ One Redfox, Your last sentence is disturbing. My understanding is no one is above the Law?

  54. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    One Redfox, not sure how ‘charities’ (which are not taxed) are otherwise “…exempt from the Law that applies to any other criminal behaviour”?
    Madonna, the ‘confessional’ situation is a quandary isn’t it? In many states, public servants such as nurses and teachers are required by law to report to authorities their suspicions of child abuse. ie. mandatory reporting. (Note: there are different arrangements in each state, sometimes not including all public servants, sometimes including other staff like doctors). Priests (or whatever their title is) that hear confessions – that peculiarity of Catholicism, are not public servants. They are no more expected to ‘tell-all’ than a prisoner in jail tells on a cellmate. Of course a priest could decide to indicate some sort of knowledge to police if he was inclined but it’s hard to see how such reporting could be made mandatory. After all, the church never believes children’s complaints – or any other person except men. Confessions are made up bullshit aren’t they? Do we want the law to pretend that the confessional is something to be taken seriously?

  55. One Redfox

    @Madonna…Well we’ll wait and see what transpires at the conclusion of the Commission, providing the general public, the victims, and anyone else who would like to see some justice done live long enough to witness the conclusion in its entirety of course? The church believes it answers to a higher law, not our mere mortals law, that’s how they have gotten away with so much over decades, dare I say…Centuries? The church has had too much influence where it is not required in politics for the same amount of time, and that’s why this Commission will be nothing but a sham. The church will put up a smokescreen by sacrificing a couple of lambs in order to protect the flock, and the Commission will go along with it. Let’s see if I’m proved wrong?

  56. Ken

    While the Commission is doing its work lets not forget that by far the most abuse occurs, particularly to girls, at home by Dad, Step Dad or Uncle Bill……

    Lets not let the desire to outsource blame to public instituions hide this reality.

  57. Madonna

    Thought provoking – ‘confessionals being taken seriously’
    If psychiatrists are required to report persons deemed dangerous to the community ( a duty of care), then why don’t Priests if not by law, then by conscious(moral compass) report child sexual offenders?
    There are reports of abuse in confessionals!
    Priests have a moral obligation (to protect their flock that means parishioners not paedophiles!) and report heinous crimes.
    Maybe that’s it – the one sin fits all mentality, to treat a confession of ‘no mass on Sunday’ the same as a hearing the confession of a ‘murderer’ or ‘paedophile’ priest or otherwise?
    My mother volunteers with PLO’s and other orgs and sees first hand paedophiles and their recidivism! Contrary to a 2011 report by The Australian Institute of Criminology(AIC) page 4,along with other literature by Criminology researchers on this topic.


  58. Madonna

    Yes valid point Ken, it’s widespread.
    A relative was sexually abused by her stepfather when she was five. A friend(no longer) told me her daughter was sexually abused by her grandfather, when I asked her about confronting him and reporting the crime, she said she wouldn’t because he gave her and her husband $10,000 for a deposit on their first home!!

  59. Liz45

    @Ken – Too true – sadly! Let’s hope that when the victims tell their stories to the RC it will make people understand the damage and pain sexual abuse causes. I was molested by my sister’s then fiance – I didn’t tell anyone for decades. I didn’t think I’d be believed as my parents liked him. I was in my own home and should’ve been safe. I lived in fear of him after this, and when visiting my sister about 12-18 months later he tried it again. I refused to go inside with him on his pretext of ‘straightening my stockings – days of stocking with seams in them??). I later broke them up when I told my parents of his violence towards my sister – my father and my eldest brother went and brought her home the next day – but I still didn’t tell them what he did to me? It’s hard to fathom the fear of reprisal or feeling ashamed that prevent kids from telling adults, which is why it’s so important to make kids understand that we’re there for them and that they have the right over their bodies – the right to speak out and ‘disobey’?

    I don’t believe in the old belief of telling kids to always do what adults say, as was the norm when I was a child. It sets kids up to be abused by adults. I found it difficult when I raised my kids to find the right balance of respect for people (all people) mixed with the right to speak out if there was an injustice or abuse etc. But it must be done! I’m so pleased that I didn’t send my sons to a catholic school, and stood up to my mother about it. Of course I still didn’t know about sexual abuse only the physical abuse I received from a nun. Was not going to happen to my kids! In those days nuns weren’t even trained properly to teach either.

    One real danger is men who precipitate relationships with sole parents in order to get close to their children. Scary to say the least.

    No wonder Pell comes out with his ‘outrage’ when he smugly knows that all priests protect pedophiles – and not only due to the confessional. How many times do we hear of others being present, or kids telling other adults only to having their mouths washed out or flogged or ?????

    @Madonna – I’ve heard men say that when they were altar boys they were r***d before or after mass? Can you imagine that? Just hideous!

    The stats are very scary. 1 in 4 girls will be abused by the time they reach 16? The stats are pretty horrific for boys too!

  60. Frank PJ

    One organisation that needs to be investigated is St John ambulance:

  61. Madonna

    Liz, I’m sorry to hear you were molested. I salute your inner strength and resolute as a survivor of abuse♥.
    Yes I understand what your saying. When I discussed stranger danger with my daughter(she later had Yoshinkan Aikido lessons), I warned her not to feel obligated to be polite to either male or females who approached her just because they were adults.
    The murder of 12year Sian Kingi proved women can be equally dangerous as men.
    ..being raped before or after mass is insidious!! Hearing that makes me feel angry!

    Yes I believe those stats Liz…a sad reflection on society.
    Take care

  62. Liz45

    @MADONNA – Thank you. At the age of 16 I was also molested by a radiographer who was on duty when I had to have a chest x-ray in order to become permanent in the commonwealth public service. This is about 1961 – I didn’t report that either. It’s amazing to think that I can still recall the feeling of, ‘did that really happen, or did I imagine it’?

    I took great delight in saving my sister from that excuse for a man. He was old enough to be her father, and she is 7 yrs older than I am. I was about 13 or so at the time. A very brave thing to do considering his level of violence. A very vile person! I often wonder what happened to him? I don’t think he’d have waited long before choosing another victim?

    I don’t know about that young girl, Sian Kingi? The stats do prove that men are the overwhelming perpetrators though. I think we’re going to hear about some pretty horrific crimes in the new year, but I applaud their courage and stamina.

    Pell made me so angry, with his awful statements. Just goes to prove how the cc is consumed with the destruction of their ‘brand’ than the disgraceful levels of abuse against innocent children. Did you hear his blase comment when told of another priest/brother who’d been arrested and charged that day? His, ‘my sympathies to the victims’ was disgusting. You’d think he was being sympathetic to someone who told him that they hadn’t won Oz Lotto? It immediately reminded me of those who’ve complained in the past of his offhand treatment – almost callous responses to horrific stories of pain and misery – even death via suicide.

    Good advice to your daughter. I have grand daughters, and also a gorgeous little great grand daughter who’s not 6 months old yet, and I certainly will not be encouraging ‘do as adults tell you’ etc. It’s a fine line, but an important one in order to keep kids safe, and also to make them feel that their bodies etc are to be respected by everyone they come in contact with.

    I recall the stories of twins, now women who were both abused in their own home, but who kept this secret from the other? They only ‘owned up’ when the priest who abused them, who they thought had been sacked, was in fact celebrating his decades of being a priest by saying mass in their neighbouring parish? They were outraged, and who could blame them. They were both interviewed, but one was not ready to reveal her identity? I felt so distressed for them both. Both had children of their own. Due to this insult and lie via their ‘local’ bishop, they said they were going to the police. This just broke their resolve to not go any further. I suppose the only positive? is that now they can comfort each other! It made me realise, that if twins felt compelled via fear or shame etc, to maintain their silence, how must people feel when they’re met by further abuse? Kids at school being flogged for ‘telling lies’? The base level of some people’s entrenched brain washing causes further distress to victims. Kerry O’Brien was so compassionate in his responses to their claims. There’s been a 4 Corners program this year on domestic violence, and his comments were spot on also. He’s a very kind and caring man I believe!

    The cc hides behind the claim of being ‘concerned’ about the ‘soul’ of the perpetrator, and their resolve to support them while they ‘change their ways and repent’? The only problem is, that they don’t? How many stories of perpetrators going from parish to parish, state to state, and even to other countries – like working with the pope even? Bunch of hypocrites? They attempt to have the view that ‘it’s not that bad, not as though anyone died’ sort of response? I just shake my head in disbelief? I just don’t understand it at all! Don’t they ever read anything about how abuse affects kids through to adulthood, in fact all their lives?

    I just hope we all support those people who’ll be giving evidence, and nobody uses a similar defence too often aimed at victims of rape and/or domestic violence? Why did you??? or Why didn’t they???That will just cause more pain.

  63. Madonna

    @Liz – I understand I’ve been a victim( prefer to think of myself as a survivor and sought professional help decades later).
    Unreported crime is known as the ‘dark figure’ of crime, seems to be a lot of it?

    *I’m a fan of Kerry O’Brien,he cuts to the chase! although some programs I can’t watch because their visual impact causes distress (abuse cases of any sort).

    FYI: Sian Kingi link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Sian_Kingi

    Andrew Bolt made an interesting point yesterday. If paedophiles confess to a priest for absolution, the likelihood of future admission of guilt by them or others would be diminished.

    Some paedophiles are victims who repeat the cycle of abuse. Sexual abuse among children is rampant in Aboriginal communities, Toomelah is a recent example.

    When victims come forward to testify, I hope they have appropriate support as they detail events. On one level, it may appear easier to keep painful memories buried (as Pell would like), but in the long term, it’s worth viewing them in order for victims to receive justice. To find closure to some extent when their experiences are validated and culprits are given appropriate sentences.

  64. Liz45

    Yes, I’m a survivor too – of DV as well, which did me more damage than the sexual molestations, and I think it was because it went on for 20 years, and threatened the safety (even environmentally) to my kids who should’ve had the right to a safe and secure environment. I used to believe that because the physical abuse didn’t occur in front of them; that I focused on providing a loving environment for them, that they were OK. The day I read an article about the effects I cried for two days. This was 20 years after I left, and they were almost middle aged adults then? THEN I read another that pointed out that one very loving apparent can compensate? I felt better, but I’ll never forgive him for causing me to live each day waiting for the next ‘blowup’ and trying to prevent it constantly? It’s a miracle that I was able to function at all. It’s like living in a siege environment?

    I don’t agree with Bolt on almost everything he says or does. The issue is, that the catholic church has its own laws that spell out very clearly, that the most important thing is to uphold the reputation of said church, regardless who has to suffer. I don’t believe that this belief should colour any activities at all – whether via a Royal Commission or in any court or police service.

    The whole point is, that priests live in a protective vacuum still, and they keep on offending, safe in the knowledge that everything will be done to protect them. Whether they’re moved around the state, country or the world, they should HAVE to be subjected to the same laws as you and I.

    Geoffrey Robertson’s book, ‘The case of the Pope’ is an educational and indepth book that clearly shows, that up until today’s date, the cc has not changed its attitude to victims and perpetrators. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to blame other aspects of life. Homosexuality was responsible, then our ‘relaxed and evil’ society. They’ve even blamed the victims. At best, they either are incapable of knowing of the awful damage, or they don’t give a hoot! Victims are expendable in their eyes? I find it difficult to comprehend the hideous and secretive acts of pure evil!

    As to aboriginal people? The Intervention was allegedly needed due to horrific and widespread child abuse. Up until this date, there’s barely a handful of people even arrested let alone been charged and convicted. When the stats of child sexual abuse are raised, I believe that the vast numbers of pedophiles are non-indigenous males, and yet, there’s no military or police vehicles lumbering along our streets; no shortage of alcohol supplies in Bondi or Wollongong etc? What has happened, is that aboriginal men all feel as though they’re abusers who’ve destroyed children. I’d say that domestic violence is rampant in these communities, but those who’ve shown that they’re in charge and making headway are thwarted by having their funds cut! It just makes me wild!

    Also, there’s no action taken against non-indigenous males abusing aboriginal teenage girls? Truck drivers who allegedly exchange cigarettes etc for sex? Why hasn’t this been raised. I believe that all kids should be protected, but telling lies about alleged perpetrators only breeds resentment and anger?

    I’m heartened today to hear, that Lawyers/politicians etc are advocating for the Law to be removed that prevents the cc having its assets ‘used’ to pay compensation. Apparently our Laws don’t exist in the US, Britain or Europe. If this is so, bring it on I say!

    I find all sorts of abuse difficult to watch. I couldn’t watch the screen during the horrific abuse of Australian sheep and cattle for instance, but I don’t apologise for crying while watching 4 Corners or Australian Story about DV or sexual assault documentaries. I’ve liked Kerry O’Brien for decades, and I believe he’s a compassionate man who genuinely feels for people. It comes across, while at the same time it doesn’t inhibit his searching questions, which ultimately add weight to the plight of the survivors. I often cry at these times. Human beings are just damned awful at times! (I often say, no wonder I love whales? A whale wouldn’t do……).

    I only sought counselling a few years ago, and I’m glad I did. I’ve been told that I suffer from a form of PTSD called Complex Trauma Disorder! There’s a lot of women out there struggling with the same life experiences as we do. I no longer feel shame, nor do I feel that it was my fault. It’s not ‘my dirty laundry’ it’s his! I’ve put the blame where it belongs – at his feet. He threatened me again only a few years ago when I challenged him for not telling our kids the truth. He’s never admitted his behaviour, and is either a sociopath or narcissistic or both??? Has no empathy or ability to feel sorry or remorseful? It’s quite amazing really! We’d have been married for 50 years in a couple of weeks, and separated/divorced for about 30? Interesting isn’t it? How people continue living a lie, and are thought of as OK by outsiders? He was a house a******e and street doer of ‘good’ things?

    Thanks for the link! I’ll follow it up! Take care Madonna! Us survivors must stick together!

  65. Madonna

    Liz: Thank you for sharing your story ♥. It sounds to me as though you’re in a good place right now.
    Yes in my youth, I too can relate to the DV, in a former life:). I’m a different person today and wouldn’t attract that type of partner.
    Do you like writing?
    Have you authored any books?
    Have you found love again?
    Regardless of whether you respond, Liz I wish you continued happiness and look forward to reading your interesting points of view in response to future Crikey articles.
    You’re an inspiration, be well.


  66. Edward James

    We know there are an endless number of people who should be thanked, it is easy to name Peter Fox, Joanne Mccarthy and the Newcastle Herald. Then it becomes numerical. Because there are thousands of victims and there are tens of thousands of victims supporters. Now we have the promise, we must get on board and ride it hands and heals like we the peoples own it, all the way to the finish! This Royal Commission belongs to the victims their families and their supporters, not any government. Now more than ever is the time for all the peoples to be vigilant. Edward James

  67. Liz45

    I attracted the same sort of partner again – I’m not with him now, and am resigned to spending my life living on my own. I like having control over my own life, and have realised that I either attract them or I’m just a bad ‘picker’?

    I’m in the process of writing about living with domestic violence as I believe that the only way for this scourge to stop is by women like me speaking out. There are still too many people who are judgmental, bigoted and ignorant, and who still blame the one abused not the abuser! No other crimes except this one and sex crimes are the victims made to feel shame and guilt? Due to the patriarchal societies women live in. Many women can’t do it or don’t feel confident or have a good command of english to write their stories. I think I could do it! In fact I’ve started. It’s not easy and I stop and start, but I’ll get there. I have acute to chronic painful arms etc all the time, and so this has an effect, but after nearly 30 yrs I’ve learnt to get used to it!

    I minded my gorgeous little great grand daughter the other night, about 20 hours all together, and I can hardly use my left arm. It feels like it’s been punched, hard and often, but she’s such a darling that it’s worth it. She’s growing so fast it’s scary. I want to enjoy her as a baby for as long as possible. she’s 5 1/2 months now, and is almost laughing out loud! The sweetest sound in the world I think – kid’s laughter!

    Nice to meet you Madonna, you stay well also. I’m glad you’re out of the suffocating relationship and wiser because of it! One day our society will find violence in relationships as repugnant as driving while drunk! I hope I’m around to see it. Sunday is White Ribbon Day which is growing every year. I usually participate but this year the activities are on Friday and I’m having lunch with a friend who’s celebrating completing her PhD on aboriginal issues in Australia. I’m looking forward to meeting her colleagues etc. She is an aboriginal woman and she’s worked for at least 5 years on it, while raising kids. Gutsy to say the least! Her little one is only 4?

    If you’re interested in WRD you can check out their website. It’s good stuff!


  68. Madonna

    @Edward yes I agree, Peter Fox (I’m aware of) and the others you mentioned were catalysts for a Royal Commission (about time). The government as usual actions important issues when there’s something to gain. That aside, as you say it’s about victims and their families who’ve been directly affected.
    @Liz I’ll look at the WRD website.
    Are you incorporating statistics in your book and reasons why women stay in an abusive relationship? I think that is part of what society doesn’t understand (why does she stay?) there’s a lot of factors to be considered and no straight forward immediate solution (subculture). Then there’s the argument, what to do about men who violate DVO’s and kill their former spouse and children. There are many compounding issues. Detecting the early signs and seeking professional help and support before violence escalates is paramount for all parties.
    MP Rob Oakshott said it starts with men [to stop], true, but do you think women can be antagonists? Communication is two-way after all. Education, drugs, self-esteem, poor communication skills, abused as a child, there is more than one perspective I think.
    I have chatted with an Indigenous PLO, who told me, in the NT there’s a rehabilitation program (live in) which treats the whole family. I think that’s crucial, unfortunately it’s not available in Queensland to my knowledge. Something worth considering, but then again, with Queensland’s current budget cuts to community service agencies, the likelihood is zilch. Hopefully, in the future, statistics will measure the value and provide an argument for expanding the model to where it’s needed most in other jurisdictions
    Indigenous issues are close to my heart (ancestral on maternal: grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother 🙂 very interesting heritage & paternal side back to 1500’s, also interesting).
    Speaking of writing I have a 3250 assignment due Sunday and two new subjects Monday. So fingers on the key board now 
    Feel free to stay in touch at aenk96@gmail.com

  69. Edward James

    The suicide of Mr John Pironas was the tipping point for abuse victims in the Maitland Newcastle area to rise up, with the support of the Newcastle Herald. The ground swell of victims now have a opportunity to unburden themselves. Their success depends on our continued overt support. http://www.theherald.com.au/story/206138/valentine-man-john-pironas-body-found/ Edward James

  70. Madonna

    Thanks Edward, I followed the link(sad), a great loss, Mr Pironas was young.

    …it’s an interesting newspaper. Noted differences of Opinion on Letter ‘Dogmatic Intervention’.

    Take Care

  71. Edward James

    I have just received this http://www.dpc.nsw.gov.au/announcements/scoi_child_sexual_abuse_allegations_in_the_hunter_region
    It informs interested readers about the status of the NSW inquiry ordered by Barry o’Farrell.
    Edward James

  72. Liz45

    @Madonna – Re the stats? I’ll put the basic ones, such as quoting WRD or the Law REform Society or those in each state. If you put DV into your search engine you’ll find over 60 million for the world, and about 16 million or so different sites for Australia. There’ve been books written about those women who end up with horrific scars, lives etc from horrific violent acts – one was shot in the face; another doused with petrol and set alight, and another who had acid thrown in her face. People can recoil and feel horrified by such obvious and horrific events, but they’re not as familiar with ‘less’ forms of physical abuse and/or the ‘siege mentality’ many women live with daily, and/or the psychological damage re constant verbal abuse, ridicule, preventing friends from visiting etc. That in many ways is worse than the physical, as it grinds away at your self esteem every day, so you end up believing that this is how it is, and worse still, you probably don’t deserve any better! I don’t think people have any idea of that sort of abuse which is destructive and isolating – which of course adds to her ability to find the courage to leave! People need to understand this! Also, most women are murdered AFTER they leave, which answers that constant criticism, ‘if it’s so bad, why doesn’t she leave’? In NSW we have a program, started by the Labor Govt called, ‘Staying Home, Leaving Violence’ where the perpetrator has to leave the family home, and the woman and her kids stay – with added security etc if that can be organized. The money for this program could be much higher, but it’s a start. In the Illawarra, they can help about 20 families per year?

    Difference of opinion, arguments etc are NO excuse for men to resort to violence. Boys need to be taught about the ‘adult’ way to solve conflict. I realized after I left, that my husband used violence, aggression, psychological negatives instead of talking through any issue. He was the boss, it was his way or the ????? Controlling behaviour is the key. I actively discouraged my boys from using their fists. I refused to go along with the ‘boys will be boys’ and this is how it is! No way! I’d tell them that any fool can use his fists, it takes brains to resolve conflict! I’d separate them when they’d resort to punch ups. There’s a recent program that educates young people about respectful relationships, it’s called ‘Love bites’ (catchy eh?) and it works! We just need more monies????

    There is NEVER any excuse for violence, and certainly NOT by a man who purports to love his partner/wife!

    Re men and violating AVO’s? The problem is, that the police are reticent to act when they men are considered ‘no threat to the community’? Sadly, they’re so obsessed on revenge that they kill? Mostly, it’s the fault of the police, who’ve refused to take action. This theme seems to run in every story sadly! DV is evident across all cultures, education, age brackets etc, and so obviously there are police who are abusers in their private life. I didn’t come across ONE police officer who was concerned about my welfare, even about my kids, when I had two babies close together. In fact, a Chamber Magistrate’s advice was ‘go home, be a good wife and cook his favourite meal’? It took me another 18 years to leave? I believed that I had no options! That was in the 60’s? It didn’t even start to change until women like me and other feminists demanded change – but I still didn’t tell anyone about my own life of abuse! We need to change communities attitudes, and that will give more women confidence to speak out. That is the main reason why I’m going to write about my experiences. I want to help other women, but more importantly, I want other people in the community to demand that it stop!

    Attorney’s General in all states and territories(Federal Labor)worked together a couple of years ago with a unified approach as their aim. In NSW, there is a separate group related to the judiciary and police, who are going to go over all deaths of women, including ones that appeared to be suicide, to see if there was histories of abuse, and what to look for in future in order to prevent it. Sadly, there’s still a long way to go!

    WRD is a great way of educating the community, and it’s great to see different parts of the media getting on board – such as women’s magazines, TV shows etc. Every year, more white ribbons are sold/given away than the preceding one which is great. Men can become supporters or ambassadors and challenge their mates etc when their behaviour is ‘off’ – to say the least! Trouble is, all too frequently it’s still referred to as ‘just a domestic’? It is not just and has nothing to do with justice!

    Queensland has also got rid of Mammography x-rays re breast cancer? So, what did we expect? Howard’s 50’s view of women didn’t encourage him to have programs that educated young people re abusive relationships? He used monies left over from one campaign to fund the ‘be alert not alarmed’ frig magnets? Says it all really! His wife didn’t say ‘boo’ – almost for the whole 12 years he was PM? One really good campaign that was going to run during the school holidays was ‘pulled’ at the last minute! No reason, just pulled! Probably a bit too confronting for Howard’s conservative views?

    I don’t have aboriginal heritage but these issues are close to my heart too! I hate injustice with a passion! And they get truckloads of it, sadly! shame on us! After over 200 years, racism is alive and well – from the top down, sadly!

    I’m interested in hearing about the structure etc of the Royal Commission? Will it involve lots of individual ‘stories’ or concentrate on the ‘systems’ etc? Getting the balance right will be difficult I believe! I just hope that the victims feel as though positive actions will happen as a result. It will be very traumatic for many people, but hopefully they’ll feel it was worth it!

    Of course we must support them! Otherwise, more people will take their own lives! There’s been too many people who found they just could NOT continue living with their pain. Just awful!

  73. Madonna

    Edward,thank you for the update.
    A maximum time frame of 5 months? Interesting times ahead to see where this state inquiry leads as opposed to the federal Royal Commission?

  74. donald blowers

    I think i have found a song that says it all in a way. I dont know how to put the song on here to listen but i have the words. Found on a blogg and copied but now cant find the blogg. Here it is

    Joys of the Flesh©

    What makes a man want to deny his heart,
    the chance to join with another?
    Why would a good man not play his part,
    in a love with a girl like his mother?

    Why would a man want to deny his blood,
    the chance to flow through the ages?
    At some point in life it will rush like a flood
    and stain all the good bible’s pages.

    Too many people are trapped as a child,
    they are lied to, abused, they are blamed.
    Then life is a struggle, forever wild,
    unstable, forever ashamed.

    What makes the good people turn a blind eye,
    while abusers are granted respect?
    What makes a good man stand and deny?
    What would their Jesus expect?

    I know about Jesus, he’s never afraid
    to stand up and look in the mirror.
    He may well forgive the mistakes you have made.
    But when a mother is crying can you hear her.

    Why tell a priest that he must not express,
    what he needs, that he’s somehow above it?
    His heart must deny the joys of the flesh.
    Although it’s a lie, he must love it.

    His heart must deny the joys of the flesh.
    Although it’s a lie, he must live it.

  75. Liz45

    @donald blowers.. By this song, are you suggesting that celibacy is the problem? I don’t agree! Yes, it’s an unnatural way to live, for men and women, but it’s no excuse or explanation re the r**e of kids/adolescents?

    As I’ve asserted before – there are many men, thousands of them at least, who through some time in their lives don’t have a regular partner. These men don’t go and r**e women and/or kids? They don’t organize to be in a position to do so as a part of their daily ‘job’. It’s an awful assertion to make. It denigrates the decent, kind and, compassionate men who abhor violence of any kind, and also find even the idea of sexual contact with children as repugnant as I do! As do the people who’ve posted here – of both sexes!

    I don’t know what makes paedophiles? I’d be interested, not because it would make me sympathetic, not a bit, but I just wonder why some men are like this? Do the Psychiatrists even know?

    Also, there are plenty of men(sadly) who are in a relationship (usually heterosexual) who have a ‘regular sex life’ but who abuse their own kids or step children or ??down the street? There are even men who deliberately commence a relationship with a sole parent, in order to have access to her kids! They’re frequently liked by all, and often applauded for how they ‘love the kids as their own’? Sadly, it’s not until these kids grow up that they tell somebody? Sometimes they never do! Sometimes the predator has done such a good job at grooming, that even the children’s mother doesn’t believe them – although this is not the usual response – thankfully! But these men are clever in a sick and conniving way!

    I question the Nuns and/or other teachers, who in the early years let kids leave the class room with said priest? Why didn’t they ask why? Why didn’t they ask the kids when they returned what they did? Were they so ‘innocent’ as to not even have a niggling thought? One priest had an unused ‘room’ where he took little girls and r***d them? Did those nuns suspect but were indoctrinated too, re the priest being god’s disciple on earth and so could NOT be questioned? I find this disturbing to say the least. And this priest in question had been abusing kids since the 1940’s – and moved around! That’s all of my life – or until the 90’s when a very brave young man (in his 30’s I think) came forward! What courage!

    The “joys of the flesh” were NEVER meant to be ‘shared’ with children!

    So, while the cc attitude to sex is ‘pre-historic’ and usually misogynist also, I don’t believe celibacy alone ‘creates’ paedophiles and their disgusting, cruel and disgraceful behaviour! That puts a blot on the lovely, decent men who’d never engage in this grotty lifestyle! Their instinct is to protect and defend, never abuse children!

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