Suicide support wanted from Vic report

Victims of clergy abuse and their advocates want to see more support to stop suicides in a Victorian inquiry's recommendations.

Support to stop the tragically high number of suicides among victims of clergy sexual abuse must be a key recommendation of a Victorian parliamentary inquiry, victims and advocates say.

Clergy abuse survivor Stephen Woods says the deaths are a indictment of the Catholic Church, with as many as 60 linked suicides in western Victoria.

He hopes the Victorian parliamentary inquiry will recommend providing funds for abuse survivors to pay for health bills, counselling, housing and living expenses.

"There are so many victims who are hurting and whose lives are still shattered from pedophilic activity, that society is going to have to support them for the rest of their lives - and that support needs to be adequate to stop the deaths," he told AAP.

"The number of suicides even from Ballarat has been just outrageous."

Mr Woods said the system must be financed by religious institutions.

Monash University clergy abuse researcher Judy Courtin agrees that an independently run compensation scheme financed by the church would be welcome.

Dr Vivian Waller, a compensation lawyer for abuse survivors, says it is not good for victims' emotional health to force them to beg the Catholic Church for compensation.

"The Catholic Church should be providing significant sums of money to an independent body so that victims can stop dealing with the Catholic Church and stop being on the receiving end of the Catholic Church's patronising and belittling response to sexual assault victims," she says.

Anthony Foster's two daughters were raped by a priest at primary school, one of them took her own life and the other was hit by a car while binge drinking and now requires 24-hour care for permanent disabilities.

He believes proper compensation must be paid to victims.

Mr Foster said the church constantly talks about money not being important to victims, but to many it is.

"It may simply allow them a better quality of life," he said.

"It gives them a sense of self esteem that maybe will prevent those suicides in the future.

"It might just be the ability for a victim to not be under constant economic pressure because his livelihood has been destroyed by this."

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

Source AAP

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