Survivors of child sexual abuse have courageously shared their stories via the Royal Commission’s website.
In one of the nine stories a young woman named Tracey* who attended a Uniting Church school in Melbourne in the 1980s tells of being raped by her music teacher and the school’s failure to report the incident to police.
Rev Sharon Hollis, moderator of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, has issued an apology to Tracey.
“On behalf of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania I apologise to Tracey and other young people who have experienced sexual or physical abuse whilst in the care of institutions of the Uniting Church and its predecessor churches prior to 1977,” Ms Hollis said.
“The harm that has been inflicted on children, which has left lifelong psychological and emotional scars, by people responsible for their care and well-being is abhorrent.
“It is thanks to the courage of Tracey and the many other survivors who have shared their stories with the Royal Commission that change will be enacted.
“The Uniting Church is grateful for the work of the Royal Commission in forensically examining the past failures to ensure a safer future for subsequent generations of children.”
Uniting Church in Australia President Stuart McMillan encouraged church members to listen and reflect on the stories.
“We commend these survivors for their courage in coming forward, acknowledging at the same time that there are others who have been unable or chosen not to share their own stories,” Mr McMillan said.
“These are powerful and disturbing truths that I encourage Church members to listen to and reflect upon.
“If they cause you sadness or distress please consider contacting the independent Support Services recommended by the Royal Commission.
“For our part we are deeply sorry that this abuse took place and for the pain that was caused.
“The Uniting Church acknowledges that it needs to learn from the past, and that by looking at our history we are best able to prepare for the future.
“As a Church we will do what we can to enable healing in consultation with survivors and their loved ones and work to making our Church the safest place it can be for children in our care.
“These survivors’ stories remind us of that solemn responsibility.”
The Royal Commission is sharing these stories now because it is closing registrations for private sessions for survivors of abuse on 30 September.
If you or someone you know was abused in a Uniting Church congregation, agency or institution, please consider sharing your story with the Royal Commission.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.