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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3140


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (17:47): I am. The only reason that we have this legislation in front of the chamber today is the extraordinary work that has been done by a number of people—individuals and organisations—around this nation. When there was no recognition of the fact that there was sexual abuse happening in institutions, when there was no acknowledgment about the way that people were treated so poorly without love or attention in a range of institutions around our nation, people themselves gathered together to ensure that their stories would not remain unheard. We know that across this country there are many, many people who have worked hard. It's always dangerous when you name a few, Madam Deputy President, but, as you know, this Senate has had a longstanding relationship with many people who have worked tirelessly and passionately to ensure that justice will be done in these issues. Through a range of Senate inquiries during the early 2000s, we were able to meet with people, to listen to them and to understand some of the pain through which they had gone, some of the loss they'd suffered and also the overwhelming passion they had to ensure that there would be acknowledgment of what had occurred and justice—just justice—in terms of acceptance and some form of acknowledgment from the government—or governments, because indeed this legislation covers governments across our nation.

I particularly want to put on record, as many people have, the work of the Care Leavers Australasia Network: Leonie Sheedy, Frank Golding, Vlad and many, many others. Thank you for allowing me to work with you for all this time and to continue working with you. I acknowledge Caroline Carroll at the Alliance for Forgotten Australians in Victoria, also maintaining this work for people in families who have lost connection and who are seeking fulfilment. I also acknowledge my mate Karyn Walsh of Micah Projects and Lotus Place in Queensland, which continue to work and must continue work because, as we've said, there is unfinished business.

We will vote on this legislation this afternoon and we will have a Redress Scheme, and I think that needs to be acknowledged. I have been troubled throughout my contribution by the thought of appearing negative at a time when we should be acknowledging that we have made a very important step. However—and Senator Hinch talked about having listened to the evidence that has come before so many inquiries—we are not fulfilling the expectations of the people in our community who have suffered. While this royal commission had very, very tight terms of reference and looked very clearly at sexual abuse, that was clear from the start. For people across this country who have suffered terribly through institutionalisation, that unfinished business is still a challenge for governments at every level in this nation. We will not be fulfilling our role as legislators—for the people and for the organisations to whom people have turned for help—if we don't acknowledge that and look to the future to ensure that that injustice will be identified and that there will be acceptance that the kind of abuse handed out to people across institutions was not only sexual abuse. That is for another day, but I feel it is important to acknowledge it in this debate.

There has been great movement, but there continues to be a need for more. I think we have that opportunity over the next 10 years, which I believe is the life span of this particular process. There will continue to be people who will discover that they are covered by this process. It is very difficult to understand, given all the discussions that we've had, that there are still people who repress the memories of tragic times. It will be very, very important for all of us to ensure that we maintain an effective communication strategy and be open and aware that there are people who are still at a different level of their journey towards achieving some form of redress.

We acknowledge that redress is not compensation and we must have that option open to people if they choose to go down that path. What we as a parliament can do is monitor the introduction of the process over the next few years to ensure that we continue to do what the royal commission did so superbly, which was to listen, and listen closely, to the people whose lives have been so seriously damaged by treatment that they did not deserve and did not ask for—and that finally their governments have acknowledged that their pain is real and that there should be an effective redress system.