Leading abuse law firm Maurice Blackburn says the start of public hearings into institutional child sexual abuse this week marks an important milestone for survivors in Tasmania.
Maurice Blackburn lawyer Zoe Papageorgiou, who represents Tasmanian survivors of abuse in institutions such as schools and youth justice facilities, described the hearings as significant steps on the path to justice and healing.
“When speaking of these public hearings, many survivors tell me of the immense relief they feel that what happened to them will be properly investigated.
“For survivors, it is a chance to tell their story and be properly heard. They also see it as an opportunity to help make Tasmanian institutions safer for children.”
Ms Papageorgiou said it was also important to acknowledge that the risks to children and the flaws in the handling of complaints were ongoing concerns.
“In Tasmania, we are not talking only about historical institutional child abuse. We are talking about abuse that occurred in very recent times, and continues today.
“As a result of this inquiry, survivors want to see perpetrators held accountable, as well as those responsible adults who have failed in their duty to protect children in their care.”
The Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings is equivalent to a royal commission, and is independent of the Tasmanian Government.
The inquiry will focus on four main case studies: the Department of Education, the Department of Health, the Ashley Youth Detention Centre and out-of-home care.
Public hearings will be held in Hobart and Launceston between May and August 2022, with the commission due to submit its report and recommendations by 1 May 2023.
There will also be rolling private sessions between abuse survivors and a Commissioner, giving the opportunity for survivors to speak directly and privately about their experiences.