The National Apology will pay tribute to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, many of whom have so bravely shared their stories through the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, with the aim of ensuring the shameful practices are never repeated.
Bishop Bill has welcomed the decision to deliver a National Apology and says he shares the Prime Minister’s views about the Royal Commission.
“I have said previously that one of the most important and lasting benefits of holding public inquiries into these criminal and tragic stories, is that this can and should change public awareness of child sexual abuse and allow those affected to tell their truths, often for the first time publicly, with a sense of safety and acceptance.
“I have seen how these inquiries have helped break down the remaining walls of silence in the wider community and thereby reduce the sense of isolation and shame that has been one of the many burdens carried by those who were abused.
“As Bishop I have on various occasions offered an unreserved apology on behalf of the Diocese to all those who have suffered and continue to suffer as a consequence of the crimes inflicted on them as children and of my Diocese’s historic failure to protect them.
“These apologies have been extended also to the families and communities that have been harmed by these crimes. Offering such apologies is not an end in itself. But, hopefully, it assists - in some small way – individuals’ journeys towards healing. That is also my hope for this National Apology.”
There will be a civic event in Newcastle, for survivors who are not located in Canberra on the day, enabling them, their families and families of victims no longer with us to share in the Apology in their local community. Bishop Bill carefully considered what would be the most appropriate way for him to honour the Apology.
“I deliberated about being present at the Newcastle civic event, in solidarity with, as a sign of respect for and in support of survivors and their families. However, institutional representatives have specifically not been invited to the event in Canberra, based on survivor feedback. I respect these wishes and would not want my presence at the Newcastle event to distract from its purpose or affect the experience of the event for any participant.”
The Healing and Support Team from Zimmerman Services will be attending the Newcastle civic event, in support of the many survivors and family members with whom they work.
Bishop Bill will be honouring the National Apology with other members of the Diocese.
“I encourage our faith communities, schools and welfare services to consider what is most appropriate for their own particular circumstances and how best to offer an opportunity for those who wish, to participate in this event.”