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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4412


Ms MACKLIN (Jagajaga) (19:26): The 14th of December 2017 is a day that I will never forget. It was the final hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse. As I approached the building, I could see the unmistakable blue and yellow shirts of the Clannies standing out against the grey suits of downtown Sydney. The Clannies are, of course, the Care Leavers Australasia Network, a support group of survivors of child abuse. They were there with the irrepressible Leonie Sheedy—kind, determined and resilient. Leonie is one of the most remarkable people I've ever had the good fortune to meet.

There are so many people who've made an enormous contribution to the cause of justice for survivors of child sexual abuse, including Leonie and everyone at CLAN and Caroline, Carol and everyone from the Alliance for Forgotten Australians. I'll never forget Caroline telling me her story to help me understand the horror of what had been done to her and so many others like her. There was the late Anthony Foster and his wife, Chrissie. Chrissie and Anthony Foster discovered in the 1990s that two of their daughters, Emma and Katie, were raped by their local priest. Emma began harming herself after the trauma she experienced. In her teens, Katie was hit by a car, leaving her permanently disabled. In 2008, Emma died of an overdose. And so began Chrissie and Anthony's tireless fight for justice, taking on the Catholic Church and eventually suing the church, personally giving counsel and tireless support to hundreds of survivors. To this day, Chrissie continues to be a powerful advocate for survivors, particularly on the issue of redress.

I remember Chrissie saying to me on that day that we must implement the recommendations of the royal commissioners. These commissioners, she said to me, were the people who had listened to the experiences of the survivors of child sexual abuse. The commissioners had spent five years considering their recommendations, and they must not be ignored. The hearing room on that day was packed and, as the commissioners very formally filed in, there was a loud cheer. So many people had been heard; so many people had finally been believed. The people in the room and all those others who had been so badly abused are now relying on each and every one of us to establish the National Redress Scheme for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, and we must not fail them.

I seek leave to resume at a later time.

Leave granted.

Debate interrupted.