Vic Abuse Victims 'Angered' by Brush-Off

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A group of Victorian clergy abuse victims say they have been brushed off by both major parties as they seek financial and moral support for the duration of the federal sex abuse Royal Commission.

Andrew Collins and Peter Blenkiron were abused while students at Ballarat's St Patrick's College during the 1970s and 1980s and informally coordinate a group of 100-odd victims and family members still fighting the effects.

The group has welcomed the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but says with it come challenges of its own.

Up to 40 abuse victims in the Ballarat area alone have taken their own lives and the group fears the royal commission will stoke more suicidal thoughts.

"A lot of these victims are going to be reliving past traumas and unless something is done to help with that, the problem is that suicide is a very real option," Mr Collins said.

Mr Collins has called for a full-time support worker to liaise with government agencies and victims throughout the commission in abuse hot-spots such as Ballarat and the Hunter region in NSW.

He also says a dedicated pension fund, similar to the one set up for war veterans, would support victims who struggle to work full time and better connect them to health services.

"Here in Ballarat there are a couple of guys we regularly see that are just right on the edge and every time they see something in the media it brings up a lot of trauma," Mr Collins said.

"The Royal Commission needs to happen but meanwhile they've got to take care of the people the commission is here to help."

But the group's suggestions have fallen on deaf ears with their local member for parliament and candidates for major parties.

"We just felt like we got pushed aside," Mr Collins said.

Mr Collins and Mr Blenkiron have spoken with Ballarat Labor MP Catherine King, Liberal candidate John Fitzgibbon and Greens candidate Stephanie Hodgins-May and left each meeting despondent.

"Catherine King was very quick to effectively say, `we've spent all this money on the Royal Commission and that's it'," Mr Collins said.

He said Ms King could see merit in the support worker concept but emphasised that she did not want to pre-empt the Royal Commission.

"We just took that as political speak for the easy way out," Mr Collins said.

Mr Fitzgibbon was even more blunt and offered no encouragement from either himself or his party, according to Mr Collins.

"We're definitely not satisfied with their responses," he said.

Mr Collins said Victoria's Democratic Labour Party Senator John Madigan was the sole advocate for the group's proposal.

A spokeswoman for Ms King said she had followed up on the points raised with a letter to Minister for Families and Community Services Jenny Macklin.

Comment has been sought from Mr Fitzgibbon.
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