SOFTLY spoken ‘Vlad’ has been on the steps of the Ballarat Law Courts since the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse began and will stay until it ends.
Vlad is a member of CLAN – Care Leavers Australia Network – a group that advocates for people who were placed into institutional care from the 1900s up to the present day. “We want to bring awareness so that people understand fully what these people went through as children, what affect it had on their lives and how it affected their lives,” he said. “We travel as much as we can and we go to as many Royal Commissions as we can.
“I think its (Royal Commission) wonderful. I’m sorry for the town (Ballarat), for the town to realize that this has been going on for such a long time, but it will just bring so much awareness to everybody – to the public – it’s about time everybody knew the truth,” Vlad said.
I asked Vlad what he thought would be the best outcome from the Royal Commission and his answer was simple ‘the truth’.
“I would like for all the organisations to come forward and tell the truth, and for the victims they have suffered enough. They have kept these dark secrets long enough now it’s time for the truth to come out,” he said. “In all honesty that’s all anybody wants – the truth.”
CLAN and the survivors of child sexual abuse have been buoyed by the support they have received from the community. “It’s not just people tooting as they drive past, putting their hands out and high-fiving and saying ‘get those bastards’, people are stopping and chatting and wanting to support, wanting to do something, so the amount of people simply walking up to us and saying ‘hey, see that man there, he abused me, this man here took me home and abused me’,” Vlad added. “There are lots of comments like that from these local people and I’m just finding it absolutely outstanding.” At the same time it is very draining on all. Vlad added that you couldn’t sit in the Royal Commission every day; it’s too heart rendering. He sighed as he continued, “To hear those stories, particularly for someone like me, who has listened to someone testify that it didn’t happen or the way it happened…is simply denying the truth. They are trying to make light of a situation that was just horrendous.” Vlad said he would like for Cardinal George Pell to come to the Royal Commission saying, “It would be so nice to have this man back in this country to answer allegations, however you want to put it, as people in this town know it has been continuous for such a long period of time ‘Cardinal Pell come on back and answer some questions and tell the truth’.
“Don’t they say confession is good for the soul? “They get canonized and I get sodomized.” Vlad’s parting words were for the town of Ballarat and how it would cope. “When the Royal Commission leaves you, the town will be left to its own devices and you people will be getting calls from everyone saying it’s time for us to come and tell our story,” he said. “When there is so much attention like this all of a sudden you start to think to yourself if everyone else is doing it maybe it’s time for me, maybe it’s my time now because you can’t live with the shame all your life, it’s a death sentence.
“I’m only 55 and had I not done this eight years ago I would have been dead by now. I would have committed suicide or gone to live in the bush. “