Australia may seem like a million miles away from you.
It really isn’t.
In as-the-crow-flies miles, it’s:
- 9,946 miles from New York City
- 10,102 miles from Boston
- 9,072 miles from Chicago
- 7,497miles from Los Angeles
- 8,896 miles from Dallas
And in case you’re interested, it’s:
- 5,568 miles from Beijing
- 4,609 miles from the South Pole, Antarctica
- 7,560 miles from Nairobi
- 10,075 miles from Quebec City
- 10,153 miles from Rome
- 7,339 miles from Buenos Aires
Compared to a million that’s not so far.
In the modern world of air travel and communications, Australia is even closer than you think. You probably know someone that’s been there on a vacation or who does business there or someone who has come to the United States from Australia on vacation or to work.
In January 2013 Australia set up a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Australia is serious, it appears from the diligence of its work, about finding survivors and learning from them. It also appears to be serious about protecting its children.
Here is the Commission’s description of itself:
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating how institutions like schools, churches, sports clubs and government organisations have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.
It is the job of the Royal Commission to uncover where systems have failed to protect children so it can make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices.
The Royal Commission is about creating a safer future for children. It can look at any private, public or non-government organisation that is, or was in the past, involved with children. This includes where an organisation caring for a child is responsible for the abuse or for not responding appropriately, regardless of where or when the abuseoccurred.
The Commission offers a variety of ways that survivors may tell their stories:
- Private in person sessions with a Commissioner
- In writing
- In interviews
The details may be found on the commission’s website:
What NSAC wishes to encourage is the dissemination of information that the Royal Commission is sitting, is actively seeking survivors, and appears to be listening. Day after day there are news stories about the testimony of survivors in Australia.
Think you don’t know anyone who may have been abused by a cleric or nun in Australia – or a religious authority figure who came to Australia from the United States and abused in the States?
Think again. Really, we mean it. We are urgently calling upon you to think about it.
Religious order members, priests, brothers and nuns have been assigned throughout the world by their religious communities.
A Marianist brother who served in Dayton, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bernard Hartman is facing trial in Australia in April of 2015 on 18 charges of abuse.
In 2011 one of his accusers went public and the Marianist brother returned to Australia in 2013 to face charges. A court in Melbourne found sufficient evidence to set the trial date.
The Marianist Province of the United States first learned of the accusations against him in 1997, removed him from a high school teaching position in Pittsburgh and sent him to a treatment center. The Marianist Order says he was not returned to educational ministry and the Marianist Provincial said in a newspaper interview in March 2014 that Hartman “ was assigned to internal ministry under a safety plan.”
Australian priests also came to the United States.
Broken Rites details the case of Paul David Ryan, an Australian priest who made seven trips to the United States where he was connected to parishes. Ryan was convicted by an Australian court and sentenced to prison. There are known victims of Paul David Ryan from the parish where he served in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He also lived for a time in a parish in Dayton, OH.
(Ryan was convicted before the seating of the Royal Commission)
Broken Rites has been researching the cover-up of sexual abuse in Australia by the Roman Catholic Church since 1993.
NSAC uses these two examples to emphasize that there can be victims of rape and sodomy by a priest, brother or religious sister who served in Australia or an Australian priest, brother or religious sister who came to the United States and lived in a parish you were part of or you know people who were or are parishioners.
NSAC is not saying that every priest, brother or religious sister who came to the United States from Australia or who went to Australia from the States abused.
But NSAC is asking you to think about this. To talk about it with people you know. To ask questions. To forward NSAC News. To work for justice. To seek to protect children. To open conversations. To get other people to think.
Please disseminate the information about Australia’s Royal Commission.
You may be the only person on earth able to help ease a particular survivor’s pain and burden and give that survivor the opportunity to consider contacting the Royal Commission.
The royal commission can also be found on Facebook and also on Twitter @CARoyalComm #shareyourstory.
It’s a small world after all.
— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com