They say a week is a long time in politics.
It was only last Friday that I met up with Robbie Gambley to talk about the Blue Knot Day event he was organising to support victims of childhood sexual abuse.
That very morning on the radio I'd heard a senior NSW police detective break ranks and claim investigations into child sexual abuse were being blocked by the Catholic Church in what he called a systematic cover-up. That same day The Age newspaper in Melbourne ran a story about a ring of 15 religious brothers and an 'alpha paedophile' suspected of the unreported murder of two boys and the abuse of 40 more in the 1960s.
Calls for a Royal Commission have been made loudly and repeatedly over many years, and on that Friday morning as I heard the latest news reports and also listened to Robbie bravely tell The Echo his story, I never thought we'd have a Royal Commission announced within the week.
But now it's happened and victims' support groups all over the country are starting to feel that finally, a light may be shone into some very dark places.
Robbie Gambley came back to see me on Tuesday after Julia Gillard's announcement and he was pumping his fist in the air. Although he was able to get a conviction against the man who abused him, there was something in his face that wasn't there at our last meeting: hope.
Over the years I have spoken to several people who were raised in institutions run by the Church or the State that collectively became known as the 'Forgotten Australians'. The abuse they suffered has been well documented and a formal apology made in 2009, but many feel that was only a beginning. We have a letter this week from Barbara Lane from the local support group calling for a national redress scheme (see page 30).
The abuse of children in schools and through church organisations, while not unique to this country, is a national disgrace. People in positions of power and trust have abused their positions and ruined lives forever, often with consequences for the next generation.
The perpetrators need to be held accountable and hopefully the powers of the commission will allow justice and healing to take place.
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