THE Australian public should prepare to be shocked, disgusted and saddened by the revelations of a Royal Commission into the institutional sexual abuse of minors.
The commission got under way in Melbourne this week, but already dozens of victims have told their haunting tales of abuse during public hearings in regional Victoria.
In many cases this abuse took place decades ago but, as the sight of grown men and women breaking down while giving evidence shows, their pain is still very real.
We have already heard from victims who say the appalling sexual abuse inflicted on them as children changed their lives forever.
Many have grown into adults leading dysfunctional lives, suspicious of others and unable to love.
The physical abuse they suffered as children inflicts mental scars long after the attacks have stopped and the perpetrator has moved on.
As the Royal Commission runs its course, we will hear countless more victims tell similar stories, but we should never become immune to the humanity behind them.
Sadly, it is now clear that Bathurst is no stranger to the institutionalised abuse that will be exposed over the coming months and years.
The courts have already heard terrible tales of abuse that took place at local schools, particularly St Stanislaus’ College, from the 1960s to early 1980s, and some of the men responsible for those attacks are now being punished for their crimes.
But all the evidence suggests that for every conviction there are many, many more abusers that go unreported.
That is a disgraceful stain on our society, a stain that can only be cleansed by bringing the terrible past out into the painful light of today.