‘Survivors want to see perpetrators held accountable’

02 May 2022 By Jerome Doraisamy
Zoe Papageorgiou

The commission of inquiry into the Tasmanian government’s responses to child sexual abuse in institutional settings started yesterday (1 May). For survivors, it marks a “critical step” towards justice.

Over two years ago, then-premier of Tasmania Peter Gutwein established an inquiry into the Tasmanian government’s responses to child sexual abuse in state institutions. That inquiry is centred on four primary case studies: the Department of Education, the Department of Health, the Ashley Youth Detention Centre and out-of-home 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.

Public hearings will be held in Hobart and Launceston between May and August 2022, with private sessions also available with commissioners for abuse survivors, as was the case in last decade’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

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The inquiry commenced yesterday, which plaintiff firm Maurice Blackburn marks a “crucial step towards justice” and an “important milestone for survivors in Tasmania”.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Zoe Papageorgiou (pictured) said that the hearings are a significant step on the path to justice and healing for Tasmanian survivors of abuse in institutions such as schools and youth justice facilities.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

It is also important, Ms Papageorgiou continued, to acknowledge that the risks to children and the flaws in the handling of complaints were ongoing concerns.

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“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,” she espoused.

“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.”

‘Survivors want to see perpetrators held accountable’
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