vrijdag, juni 21, 2013

Former residents to boycott nuns' reunion

The Age

Carolyn Webb

Members of a support group for people who grew up in care say they will boycott a reunion organised by the Good Shepherd nuns as part of celebrations for the order's 150th anniversary in Australia.

Care Leavers Australia Network chief executive Leonie Sheedy said the nuns' event was inappropriate ''when they haven't acknowledged, or publicly apologised for, the damage that's been done to children in their care''.

With the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse under way and the state inquiry into how the churches handled clergy sexual abuse to report later this year, abused former residents of Good Shepherd institutions said there was nothing to celebrate.
The nuns, on their webpage, say the June 21 and 22 celebrations at the Abbotsford Convent will include tours and an exhibition.
Ms Sheedy said many CLAN members would boycott a reunion afternoon tea ''for all former
residents of Good Shepherd institutions'' at the convent on Friday.

She said they felt their lives had been ruined as girls and young women by being forced to do harsh, unpaid labour - for example, in industrial laundries - and by physical, sexual and mental abuse.

Ms Sheedy believes the royal commission may have something to do with why the nuns are holding the reunion. ''It's to show that they're engaging with the women.'' She said survivors of Good Shepherd institutions had received no compensation, except for a handful who were offered up to $5000 each.
Stena Keys, of Portarlington, who laboured at Abbotsford aged 13 in the late 1960s, sees ''nothing to celebrate'' this weekend.

''I was sexually abused by two of the other residents there, the other girls, and the nuns verbally abused me,'' she said.

She said the nuns shouldn't hold a reunion. ''Definitely not as a celebration. Maybe more as an apology.
''I worked in the laundry. I did the slave child labour for them. I worked on the presses. I'm definitely paying for it now … physically I'm just no good. I'm 56 and I can barely get around.''

Heather Templeman, of Hastings, said her legs were burnt by hot pipes and her knees were ruined when she was forced to work for three years in the convent laundry from 1958, aged 16.
''The ironing was done for the Windsor Hotel, the Savoy, the Plaza, we earnt a lot of money for them, but we didn't get paid for it.''
She said of the reunion: ''What's it celebrating? I'm not sure why they're doing it, to make them look good or something? But it doesn't help, the damage is done.

''My shoulders are bad, I'm waiting for a knee replacement and the other knee is going.''
She said a staff member - not a nun - once punched her for hiding in a cupboard as part of an escape attempt.

In a statement, Good Shepherd province leader Sister Anne Manning said counsellors would be at the reunion. Not all former residents are happy about the event, but 104 were coming ''and are looking forward to it''.
The reunion had ''absolutely nothing'' to do with the royal commission. ''We believe it is appropriate to include former residents as part of our 150th celebrations. They are part of our history.''

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