Sunday, 6 March 2016

New Centre for Ballarat

It is good to see Cardinal Pell acknowledging that many victims of childhood sexual assault have long term psychological damage that needs assistance so they can get on with living meaningful lives.  It is not, however, good to suggest new ways of assisting people, possibly funded by and attached to the Catholic Church, by the establishment of a new centre for victims of sexual assault in Ballarat.  Churches, other institutions and bureaucracies  have long had a conflict of interest when dealing with criminal activity by their own people.  Sexual assault needs to be dealt with by independent organisations who can advocate fearlessly for their clients.

Adults and children in Victoria, who have been sexual assaulted or have had family members and friends assaulted, have had a extensive professional sexual assault service system for decades.  This system is currently under pressure due to the large number of people disclosing sexual assault, not just by clerygy, in fact predominantly by family and friends.  The increase in referrals is related to the ongoing publicity generated by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into Child Abuse prior to the Royal Commission. The Centres Against Sexual Assault need more funding so that they can deal with the volume of requests they are receiving and also have capacity to undertake preventive work and research.