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Sex abuse victim tells story

Shine Lawyers director Stephen Roche says an historic child sex abuse case against the Anglican Church has brought about many changes in law and society.
Shine Lawyers director Stephen Roche says an historic child sex abuse case against the Anglican Church has brought about many changes in law and society. Stuart Cumming

THE child sex abuse victim who was the plaintiff in a landmark civil case against the Anglican Church spoke publicly about her experiences for the first time in Toowoomba last night.

A public lecture held by Shine Lawyers at the University of Southern Queensland marked the 10th anniversary of the 2001 civil court decision to award the woman $850,000 for abuse she suffered as an 11-year-old student at Toowoomba Preparatory School in 1990.

Shine Lawyers director Stephen Roche and lawyer Jodie Willey represented the plaintiff in her case against the Corporation of the Synod of the Diocese of Brisbane.

They both spoke at last night's lecture, which Mr Roche said was held to recount the story and examine what changes in law and society the case had brought about.

He said the instances of child sex abuse were now more prevalent than before.

"One of the reasons for that is people are inclined to talk about it," Mr Roche said.

He said it was in part because of the example set by his plaintiff when she spoke out about her abuse.

"The case rippled across the whole world.

"All of a sudden, a lot of cases of institutional abuse came to light."

He said the decision caused governments to introduce blue cards and protocols for hiring teaching staff.

The case ultimately led to Governor General of the time Dr Peter Hollingworth resigning from his position in 2003.

"It is important for her (the plaintiff) to speak because she is a survivor of child sexual abuse.

"She has been able to move on with her life and I think she is an inspiration for people who are still going through that process."

Topics:  sexual abuse usq


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