‘Heinous’ abuse at Victorian youth centres

Children were victims of heinous crimes including sexual abuse at Victoria’s state-run youth training centres, an advocacy group says.


Executive officer Leonie Sheedy of Care Leavers Australia Network says a royal commission hearing will finally allow Victorian state wards who were abused to share their stories.

“At long last, Victorian state wards who were committed to Turana, Baltara and Winlaton will finally have their voices heard,” Ms Sheedy told AAP.

“These stories need to be heard and proper justice and compensation needs to be given by the nation to all care leavers.

“They were incarcerated and terrible, heinous crimes were committed on them, on children.”

The royal commission into child abuse is holding a two-week public hearing, beginning on Monday, into the experiences of former child residents of three state-run centres between the 1960s and early 1990s.

It includes the responses of staff members to child sexual abuse at Turana Youth Training Centre, Winlaton Youth Training Centre and Baltara Reception Centre.

Ms Sheedy said most girls who went to Winlaton were internally examined in what her network calls “state-sanctioned rape”, to check if they were sexually active.

“Children who had no one to turn to had no human rights and nobody there to protect them,” she said.

“What I hope to get out of this royal commission hearing is that the public knows it isn’t just the churches and charities, it’s public servants who raped children, who neglected children in their care.

“They were getting paid by the taxpayer of this state and the state abdicated responsibility for those children to sadists and pedophiles.”

A Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child abuse did not cover government-run orphanages and children’s homes, and the royal commission public hearing will only encompass three of the Victorian youth facilities, Ms Sheedy said.

The public hearing will also examine the past and present policies and procedures of police and the human services department in dealing with children and young people in youth training, reception and justice centres in Victoria.

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