19 Sep 2009

New South Wales says sorry to those abused as children

10:01 pm on 19 September 2009

Charities, churches and the New South Wales Government have apologised to the thousands of people abused and mistreated while growing up in institutional care in the Australian state.

At a service attended by hundreds in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens on Saturday, New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees delivered a formal apology to the estimated 200,000 people who grew up in state care, many of whom were sexually abused and lived lives of hardship.

"I'm sorry for any hurt and distress you suffered in the care of the state," Mr Rees said. "This should never have happened."

The Bishop of South Sydney, Rev Robert Forsyth, read out an apology on behalf of organisations like Anglicare, Catholic Care and the Salvation Army.

"For the children and young people who were neglected mistreated and abused, we are sorry," he said.

"For the families who entrusted their children to us and whose expectations were not met, we are sorry."

More money for counselling

One of those mistreated as a child, Janet Ball, says she has asked Mr Rees to look into compensation after losing her attempt in the courts. "I was kicked, I was bashed, I was locked up in solitary confinement," she says.

State Community Services Minister Linda Burney says a $9m funding boost will help people with counselling and access to personal information.

The Federal Government has welcomed the New South Wales apology and is set to deliver its own by the end of the year.