The harm caused by the Diocese’s history of child sexual abuse and failure to protect children has affected the individuals and the entire community. On occasions, Healing and Support receives requests to undertake particular actions that have special symbolic significance to a client or group of clients affected by abuse.
Healing and Support was a key facilitator and supporter of Lina’s Project.
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has a well-known and shameful criminal history of child sexual abuse. Lina, a victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of diocesan cleric, conceived a project of atonement the diocese facilitated. The Atonement: Lina’s Project was held at a community gathering of more than 500 people on Friday 15 September 2017 at Newcastle City Hall.
The project wasn’t limited to one day. The Diocese has committed to future actions to ensure the story is not forgotten.
For more information on Lina’s Project:
On the evening of Lina’s Project, Bishop Wright announced a perpetual day of remembrance:
“September 15 will be a perpetual day of remembrance in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. This day will be marked in a variety of ways, in conversation with survivors and the wider community. The Diocese will also be working with schools within the region, particularly those that were sites of abuse, to plan events of acknowledgement. As a Diocese, we also continue our attempts to make what amends we can, to support those who were abused and their families, and to ensure the measures in place to keep children safe in our parishes, schools and communities are kept to the highest standards.”
For September 15, 2019, the Diocese developed a duality of response to acknowledge the perpetual day of remembrance, a deeply moving liturgical response and a secular event that featured the audio-visual display at the heart of Lina’s Project.
The Diocese has also supported a couple of Healing and Support clients to work with a professional photographer to produce unique individual pictorial histories of their journeys as survivors. These stories were published in the September 2019 edition of Aurora.
The Diocese also recognises and supports any community or survivor advocacy groups who choose to acknowledge the perpetual day of remembrance in their own way.
As part of Bishop Wright’s commitment to Lina’s Project, he said:
The Project isn’t limited to one day. The Diocese has committed to future actions to see that the story is not forgotten and our determination that it not be repeated never fades … the Diocese will be consulting with survivors and the community to plan a permanent memorial.
Preliminary work on the concept of a memorial highlighted that there were many differing views on the subject, many juxtaposed to the other. Consequently, an independent third-party research and consultation agency ‘Mara Consulting’ was engaged to:
… consult with the community to understand if a memorial is an appropriate way to acknowledge victims and survivors, both living and deceased, of Catholic institutional child sexual abuse.
There were two key components; firstly to understand if a public memorial is supported. If it is supported, the second part is to collect ideas about elements that could be included in a memorial.
You can read the summary report here: https://maraconsulting.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/2052-CMDN-Outcomes-3.pdf
Whilst a permanent memorial has support, the location of a memorial at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, is not supported by most respondents.
The feedback has been compiled into a research report for the Diocese to help inform their future planning for any permanent memorial.