Abuse victims from orphanages and foster care to seek compensation through Royal Commission

Timothy McDonald

November 16, 2012 / abc.net.au

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Government's Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse may have been sparked by incidents within the Catholic Church but it's not the only organisation that will be subject to scrutiny.

Many people who were abused in foster care or at boys' and girls' homes also hope the Royal Commission will bring some recognition of what they went through.

The Care Leavers Australia Network hopes that compensation will be considered.

A warning: Timothy McDonald's report contains material that some listeners might find distressing.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Jeffrey Myers says he suffered horrific abuse as a child at the Royalston Boys Home in Glebe in inner Sydney.

He's in his 70s now and the abuse happened decades ago, but he still has a hard time talking about it.

JEFFREY MYERS: Well I will go as far as saying that there was penetration by objects in my body. That's about as far as I'll go mate, as far as the torture side of it was concerned. And I did black out.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: He's hopeful the Royal Commission will bring some recognition of the abuse that many people suffered while they were in care as children.

Jeffrey Myers says compensation for the victims should be on the agenda.

JEFFREY MYERS: This Royal Commission has got to come up with justice and redress. I do believe we all deserve redress too because the churches and the charities, the state government, they all need to contribute to this, to a redress scheme because they had a duty of care and they failed bad mate. They failed real, real bad. When you got stories all over the country of child rape and criminal assault mate, that's disgusting.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The Care Leavers Australia Network is an advocacy group for those who suffered abuse in orphanages, children's homes, foster homes and other institutions.

Some of those institutions were religious; others were secular or government agencies.

The executive officer Leonie Sheedy says it's an issue that affects thousands of Australians.

LEONIE SHEEDY: They feel like second class citizens of Australia. Many of them have literacy problems. They're searching for their parents. This is Australia's grubbiest little secret - what happened to the tens of thousands of Australians, other than the Stolen Generation, who suffered in the same institutions as the Stolen Gen.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Most of the cases involved are decades old, with some dating back as far as the 1940s.

Leonie Sheedy says because many of the victims are so old the institutions responsible for abusing them shouldn't wait until the Royal Commission concludes to compensate them.

LEONIE SHEEDY: They need to set up a reparation fund in order to assist people to heal from their shattered childhoods. The elderly, people in their 80s, they are very concerned that they won't survive to see the recommendations or a reparation fund.

TONY EASTLEY: Leonie Sheedy from the Care Leavers Australia Network ending Timothy McDonald's report.

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