Is it any coincidence that in the midst of a global pandemic that Australia would have to once again come to terms with the “other” virus. The virus that has afflicted the nation and the world for far too long. The virus that is Institutional child sex abuse. On this day it would be recorded that at the height of the Corona Pandemic the high court of Australia overturned a verdict against a Cardinal. A decision which for most, myself included, would make it easy to fall into a pit of rage and anger. I look at the various images of this old man who for so many years played an intrinsic part in the failures of the church and I chose not to go there. Instead, as with the Corona Pandemic, I lean on the side of optimism.
The chorus of voices showing support and compassion for the courage displayed by Witness J tells me that there is something much deeper and profound at play. Voices that today are being amplified. The support for survivors of institutional abuse is as strong as ever regardless of the so-called high profile figures who chose to defend what in most peoples eyes is indefensible. I feel safe in the knowledge that it is not over.
There was a time when this case would never have seen the light of day. Not in a criminal justice setting that’s for sure. For the best part of the last forty years, the system ensured that hundreds of cases around Australia were conducted in civil proceedings and settled out of court in less than ideal circumstances for the survivors. In most instances leading to further trauma being inflicted.
The Royal Commission not only lifted the lid on the widespread nature of the abuse but also on a flawed legal system that has served to protect the interests of the Catholic Church above all else. Most states around Australia have now introduced legislation allowing for the setting aside of settlement agreements for past child abuse claims, a notion that would have previously been unthought of. NSW the last state to visit this idea recently released a discussion paper which should see it fall in line with the rest of the nation.
Our country for too long has been afflicted by this virus. Unlike Corona, we have the cure. It comes in the form of Truth, Love and Compassion. There will be some adverse side effects, like today’s decision. I can’t speak for how Witness J must be feeling today, but I am sure that he will take some comfort in knowing that his truth-telling has seen such an outpouring of support not only for him but for survivors, around the country, myself included.
Contents of this post, make up part of the upcoming book One Day I Will Tell The Truth