Neerkol victim gets welcomed Christmas gift
FORMER Rockhampton local and victim of institutionalised child abuse, Joe Kiernan, has never looked so happy.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has done its job, impeccably according to some, and the world can see the truth.
Recalling the horror story of his childhood in the notorious St Joseph's orphanage at Neerkol, near Rockhampton, is not pleasant.
But knowing that no-one can now call him a liar or a madman is one of the great things about the royal commission's work, he said recently.
And he is pleased the community accepts that the job is not over yet.
There is still the question of redress and the real task - to bring about real social change so the helpless in society are helpless no more.
But Mr Kiernan is already grinning from ear to ear.
"The main thing for me is that no-one can say it didn't happen.
"They can't say that anymore," he said.
Mr Kiernan, who now lives in Gympie, was stolen from his un-married mother at birth, "because that's what they did then."
He was taken to the infamous orphanage where his life became a real life horror.
The orphanage was an institution so evil its grounds include a memorial to the abused children who died there.
Mr Kiernan told his story to the royal commission and felt that, at last, someone in authority was listening.
He is one of thousands of people who survived the care of church and state and who have had the chance to tell their story - and to get something done about it.
The commission investigated schools, churches, sports clubs and government organisations across Australia, including how they responded to "allegations and instances of child sexual abuse."
Now it has reported to the parliament, documenting on the public record what happened while Australia turned a blind eye to the extreme abuse and bullying suffered by defenceless children across the continent.
Legal commentators have said the inquiry has now created the conditions for change, giving society's leaders a choice between making progress or failing in their responsibilities to all of us.