24 Jan 2021

Survivors' group plead for churches to 'come out and join the call'

3:37 pm on 24 January 2021

A group representing some survivors of abuse in faith-based care wants churches to come out and support the call for the setting up of an independent body to deal with all complaints of abuse.

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Photo: 123RF

Survivors have told the inquiry into Abuse in Care that the new body, which must be separate from the state and any religious organisation, is urgent.

Liz Tonks from the Network of Survivors of abuse in faith-based care said they are hoping, when churches appear before the Royal Commission in March, they will back the idea.

''We would hope the churches would come out and see the value of doing this and join in that call.''

She said it would take it out of the churches' hands and get the historical abuse cleared-up, giving them a way forward.

Tonks said religious organisations would need to be held accountable for why they would refuse to pick up the concept of an independent body, because it would be in their best interest to do so.

Liz Tonks from Network of Survivors of abuse in faith-based care

Liz Tonks Photo: Supplied

She said survivors are hoping the Royal Commission will make a recommendation to government this year about setting up an independent body.

Tonks said survivors who are still alive would want redress sorted out quickly.

''These are the people who, if we don't have it immediately, are going to die without it. These are the people who will be presented in the suicide, addiction and criminal law statistics.

''The other reason it is so important is for survivors to know that the abuse that happened to them doesn't happen to others.''

She said an independent body needs to insure that as part of the redress, it addresses how it can monitor and require any organisation that has access to children's care and [is] responsible for their care, has policies and protocols in place and if abuse happens they need to be investigated and held responsible.''

A clear and prime motivation for victim-survivors in reporting abuse is not just to have their own redress, but prevent it happening to others, she said.

Tonks said not all abuse of children in care is covered by the Royal Commission and it is the network's hope this may change.

''Excluded from this are sports clubs and likes of the scouting movement, where we know there has been horrendous abuse and there have been prosecutions.''

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