SNAP Australia welcomes the announcement of the provision of basic legal advice to those wishing to provide evidence to the Royal Commission.
We hope this service will be made available to whistleblowers and witnesses as well as to victims themselves, and that anyone providing this service will first be required to undergo training for dealing with those affected by complex trauma.
In addition to legal advice, victims desperately need access to free counselling to help with preparing their submissions. The Royal Commission will expose vulnerable victims to the emotional roller coaster of being heard, believed and supported for the first time in their lives, while also reliving horribly traumatic experiences. To ask these innocent victims, whose needs have been ignored and neglected for their entire lives, to find the courage to do this without vital support would be heartless indeed and detrimental to efforts to discover the truth.
It is also extremely important that the Commission not expose victims to service providers, Commission staff or even Commissioners with strong, high level ties to the institution which enabled and covered up their abuse. Those with ties to the Catholic Church should not hear evidence from or provide support to Catholic victims, those with strong ties to the Scout movement, state institutions, the Salvation Army, the Jewish Community etc should be kept away from dealing with victims of those institutions. Neither should Bob Atkinson, a former Queensland Police Commissioner, hear any matters involving Queensland Police investigations.
While a legal and technical process, it is important to remember this Royal Commission is about Australian children who were targeted, preyed upon, and exploited by those in positions of absolute power over them, then betrayed and abandoned by church officials and other institutions, to suffer in lonely silence for decades, cruelly denied the help that would have relieved our suffering.
The needs of the brave children who have survived these crimes deserve at least as much of the commission's attention and funding as do the important legal issues which are the only way to ensure that future Australian children will not suffer as we have suffered.
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