Dialog Box

CatholicCare Victoria

Responding to past wrongs

CatholicCare Victoria acknowledges the actions we have taken in the past and apologise for the harm caused and the trauma that continues. 

We are committed to redressing the impacts with the communities who have been harmed.

Woman with hands crossed over heart.

Statement to those impacted by child sexual and other abuse

The Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council has acknowledged the grave mismanagement of the Child Sexual Abuse scandal.

CatholicCare Victoria stands in solidarity with all those affected by abuse: children, vulnerable adults and others. Abuse of any form, be it sexual, physical, psychological, financial, and spiritual. To those abused, to families, loved ones and friends who have suffered with you and alongside you; to the wider community for the failure of CatholicCare Victoria to live up to the values to which we aspire: we are sorry.

We acknowledge many people have suffered and continue to suffer. There have been too many failures and too many damaged lives and communities.

We acknowledge and apologise for the failure of the organisations who are now CatholicCare Victoria to stand in solidarity with and advocate for victim survivors.

We acknowledge the Australian Government’s National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (22 October 2018).

Catholic Social Teaching speaks about enhancing the life and dignity of people, especially those who are vulnerable because they have suffered. To those who have suffered because of actions and inactions of Catholic leaders, we are deeply conscious of your enduring pain and suffering, both of victim survivors and their families. At CatholicCare Victoria we prioritise the ongoing protection of children and young people.

We will advocate for just and compassionate responses to the needs and claims of victim survivors. We are uncompromisingly committed to criminal behaviour being treated as such, and that criminal behaviour is immediately reported to the appropriate authorities.

We thank those who have found the courage to step forward and shine a light on the dark corners of this story. Many steps have already been taken to ensure that the present and the future are very different from the past. We must now consolidate what has already been done and, in the light of the Report of the Royal Commission, take any and all further steps open to us to make sure that CatholicCare Victoria is a place of absolute safety and security for children, young people, vulnerable adults and indeed everyone who engages with us.

With humility, hope and a listening ear, we seek to share your journey of healing.

An Apology – Historical Forced Adoptions

In 1935 the Archdiocese of Melbourne established an agency to provide social services on its behalf. Initially, as the Catholic Social Services Bureau and later operating as the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau, we believe the agency facilitated over six thousand adoptions in Victoria in the period spanning the 1940s through to the 1980s.

During this period the agency was one of many in a statewide adoption system that, through policy and practice, actively promoted the adoption of young, unwed mothers’ babies by married couples. Today, we understand these historical policies and practices were sometimes misguided, unwarranted and cruel. We recognise that our social workers whom these young women might have hoped to advocate for their wishes, and to support them, may have been agents of a system that shamed, disempowered and hurt them when they were at their most vulnerable.

It is with the deepest sorrow and regret that we acknowledge that this system, at times, operated at the expense of young mothers’ own rights, wishes and dignity. We recognise the profound and ongoing pain of loss, grief, anger, uncertainty and undeserved guilt experienced by these mothers in the decades since. We recognise the pain of the children who grew up apart from their family of origin, and who struggled with identity and to find a sense of belonging. We recognise that the hurt and consequences of the system continue to resonate through many other lives, including those of fathers, siblings, grandparents and other family members.

To all those who were hurt as a result of these past actions: we acknowledge your pain, and we say sorry.

To ensure the mistakes of the past are never repeated, we now regularly review our practices to extend the best possible care and protection to those we serve. We wholeheartedly commit to providing assistance, counselling and support to all those who suffered as a result of the system.

An Adoption Information Service is available to provide information and assistance to those seeking reunions with separated family members. You can apply by visiting the Victorian Government website.

For those wishing to make confidential contact with CatholicCare Victoria, you can do so via our Privacy Officer at privacy.officer@catholiccarevic.org.au