The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) welcomes the release of the report of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations, conducted by the Family and Community Development Committee. The AFA commends the committee members for a Report that recognises the pain of victims and provides insightful recommendations to build a framework that will henceforth protect children from predatory individuals.

The AFA congratulates the committee members for their hard work on this massive undertaking, and view the report as both a worthy outcome of that work, and an important watershed moment for Victoria. The AFA also endorses the bi-partisan approach displayed by the Victorian Parliament to implementing the recommendations in a timely manner.

Most importantly, the courage and suffering of victims and survivors must also be acknowledged. Those that came forward for the Inquiry and those that continue to live with the legacy of stolen innocence. Those who publicly confronted these painful matters should be applauded, and it is fervently hoped that the Inquiry and Report brings some measure of comfort and validation, and provides strength and hope to other victims and survivors. The suffering of the victims has been shown to continue to cause significant issues for them their entire lives. The Inquiry and its findings cannot alter the past. However, it can go towards ensuring that institutional abuse of children cannot happen in the future.

AFA President Michael Boyd said “The scourge of child abuse is certainly not limited to any particular organisations, or sectors of society.”

“While noting this, there was also a strong theme in the Committee’s report of challenging some traditional notions of religious privilege, for instance of religious institutions not being exempt from secular laws and accountability.”

“The AFA has consistently argued against such religious privilege over a long period, and endorse these comments in full.”

Hopefully the Inquiry will lead to lessons being learned, and result in genuine improvements to how these risks are managed, offenders are reported to police without exception, and how victims and survivors are treated, supported and compensated. Survivors are encouraged to seek support through organisations like Adults Surviving Child Abuse(ASCA) on 1300 657 380

Michael Boyd
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595

Phone: (08) 8835 2269
Email: [email protected]

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