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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 3447

Ms HENDERSON (Corangamite) (10:46): On Sunday it was my great pleasure to meet up again with Vlad Salokovic from Geelong. Vlad is one of many thousands of people who were abused in an institution. In Geelong there were around 13 orphanages and other like institutions, so in our region there are many people who were impacted very seriously by their experiences as a child being raised in one of these orphanages.

It was a great day when our government announced a national redress scheme for victims of child sexual abuse in an institution, which of course was one of the key recommendations of the royal commission. I am absolutely delighted that the Attorney-General, George Brandis, and the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, announced this very significant scheme, which will provide a best-practice Commonwealth redress scheme and invite other governments and other institutions to opt in. I want to acknowledge my great friend here, the member for Swan, who has also been an incredible advocate for this redress scheme.

Vlad is an incredibly brave man. He spent much of his childhood at Glastonbury boy's home in Geelong and also at St Augustine's Orphanage. He is part of a group called CLAN, the Care Leavers Australia Network, led by Leonie Sheedy, who has been an incredible advocate. She is also from Geelong. Leonie, Vlad and so many others have been brave enough to tell their incredible story.

Leonie told the Geelong Advertiser last year that she grew up in a Geelong orphanage with her brother. She said this happened in every town in Australia that had an orphanage, but Geelong had more orphanages than any other town outside a capital city. Children were farmed out to so-called 'good Catholic families' in the Western District, like farmers, and they were exploited and made to do a lot of domestic work and farm work. I think many families had good intentions when their children were sent to orphanages, but the level of abuse, as we have now discovered, was quite horrific.

It is a very significant day that our government has announced this national redress scheme. It does provide justice. The money will be significant, but it is not just about the money. It is about saying to these victims: 'We hear you. We hear that you deserve justice. We acknowledge your pain and suffering. We apologise for what has happened to you, and justice must be done.'