'I never want children to go through what I went through'
AFTER surviving years of abuse as a child in foster care, Mary* from Roma says a national apology is welcome news but more must be done to protect those in the system.
"I was placed into foster care at the age of seven, and I remained there until I was 18. In that time I was shuffled through multiple families," she said.
"During this period I was going through a lot of hard times, I was the victim of abuse and assault.
"I am still dealing with the trauma: It affects everything, future relationships, how you react to other people.
"You're vulnerable as a child and you're trusting.
"I never want children to go through what I went through," she said.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke out after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced last week there would be national apology to victims of institutional child sexual abuse on October 22.
He also outlined the Government's plans to implement 104 of the 122 recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.
Mary said she was pleased to hear that news but said more work needed to be done to protect future wards of the state
"I think it's great the Government is recognising this is occurring in the childcare system however I would like to know what they are going to do to stop this happening in the future," they said.
"There are a lot of children in foster care in regional towns, and many people do a great job of taking on children who aren't theirs.
"However abuse is not so spoken about out here in the southwest, and I believe there is not as much vigilance as there is in metropolitan areas.
"And what happens to these children behind closed doors will affect them for the rest of their lives.
"There needs to be a re-assessment of who can foster and I believe that should include more background checks."
Mary said some of the families she lived with treated it like a "babysitting job" and couldn't take the hardships that came with taking on a foster child.
"When I bought it (the abuse) to the attention of social workers, I was often labelled as a 'troublesome child' who was seeking attention. It was palmed off like that in care."
The national redress scheme will see people like Mary compensated for what they endured.
And Mary is in the process of making her claim.
The scheme will begin paying out victims on July 1 with the average payout to be $76,000 although the maximum figure available will be $150,000.
Her advice to others considering making a claim was to get good legal advice and have a good support system.
"I thought it was a great thing - the court action - but, at the same time, it has made me realise that it is going to open a whole can of worms mentally, things that I have worked hard to close.
"I have to go back through the emotions of being back in that place in that time.
"Support is an important thing for anyone looking to go through this.
"Legal advice is very important too, there are a lot of hurdles.
"After that, the first step is getting in contact with child services and accessing your files.
"It's important for us to stand up and make ourselves known, to give a voice for those still in care."
Anyone who needs immediate assistance for abuse should contact 1800Respect, on 1800 737 732.
*Real name suppressed.