Child sex abuse survivor Ray Leary says he hopes the national apology to victims of institutional abuse will provide closure after decades of trauma.
After suffering years of sexual abuse as a child, Ray Leary has pinned his hopes on a national apology to find closure and move on.
The 57-year-old Sydneysider is set to join hundreds of child abuse survivors in Canberra on Monday to witness the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.
By saying sorry, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be telling thousands of victims of child sexual abuse that they have been believed and institutions had failed them.
For decades, institutions have covered up horrific abuses of power and communities have shut their ears to the stories of survivors, Mr Leary says.
"This apology is not only to the victims of child sexual abuse, but their families, their children, the effect it has had on their lives," Mr Leary told AAP.
"It means that the government, on behalf of the people of Australia, believe us and are apologising for the sins of their fathers.
"For much of my life I was laughed at or ridiculed when I told the stories of the abuse I received growing up as a state ward."
A child victim of the infamous Robert "Dolly" Dunn paedophile ring, Mr Leary had tried to live a normal life by holding down a job and living with his wife and two children, but everything unravelled when he was forced to confront his past.
After being called to give evidence at the Wood Royal Commission, he lost everything trying to get justice.
His marriage ended and he stopped working: "I attempted to commit suicide."
While trying to find a way forward, Mr Leary created a group for male victims of child sexual abuse to share their experiences in a safe space.
"Helping others put me on a path towards healing," he said.
"It's very hard for a wife to understand this, it's very hard for a mother and father to understand this, and it's very hard for any family to understand.
"I have been receiving closure and I hope this final apology will provide complete closure and I can look forward to the next part of my life."
It was not until the 2013 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that the 57-year-old realised the true scale of the abuse.
The inquiry received more than 40,000 phone calls, 25,000 letters and emails, and held about 8000 private sessions, resulting in 2575 referrals to authorities, including police.
The apology follows the release of last year's final report by the royal commission, which recommended a national strategy to end child sexual abuse, warning governments, churches, charities and other organisations they must not fail children again.
The redress scheme that has also followed, enacted on July 1, provides about 60,000 people with access to counselling, a redress payment and a direct personal response such as an apology from an institution, if the survivor wants it.
Readers seeking support can contact the following services:
- Royal Commission Community Based Support Services 1800 025 441 / relationshipsnsw.org.au
- Care Leavers Australasia Network 1800 008 774 / clan.org.au
- Find and Connect (Forgotten Australians, care leavers and former state wards) 1800 16 11 09 / findandconnect.gov.au
- Forced Adoption Support Services 1800 210 313 / dss.gov.au
- Wattle Place (NSW only) 1800 663 844 / Wattle Place online