Child sexual abuse law change brings hope for survivor

Former resident Church of England North Coast Children's Home, Tommy Campion. Photo Contributed
Former resident Church of England North Coast Children's Home, Tommy Campion. Photo Contributed Contributed

HE WAS starved, flogged and sexually abused as a child by the Anglican Church.

But today, former North Coast Children's Home survivor Tommy Campion has a reason to smile.

The New South Wales Government is scrapping the time limit on civil claims for victims of child abuse so they can sue their abusers, no matter how much time has passed.

Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton has introduced legislation to parliament that would remove the current three-year statute of limitations on abuse claims.

It is a milestone Mr Campion has been hoping for since he began his campaign for justice more than a decade ago.

"I was close to tears. Well, I suppose I did have tears in my eyes," he said.

"A lot more people - I mean thousands of people - will know they can now seek help without having to fight through the courts.

"Without having to put up with the wrath and the shocking attitudes of the churches.

"You can get help; you can have counselling, psychiatric treatment, be patted on the back or hugged by your mum or dad.

"But the churches don't care about that.

"The only thing that really bothers them is when they have to dish out money from the millions they try to keep hidden away from the general public."

Mr Campion, now a successful photographer on the Gold Coast, was sent to the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore by his father after his mother left home.

He and dozens of other children between the 1940s and the 1980s were subjected to terrible abuse from the very people supposed to protect them.

Children had feces rubbed in their faces. They were whipped and beaten and sexually abused when clergymen from neighbouring churches came to visit.

His evidence was instrumental in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse last year uncovering the full extent of the depravity that went on at the North Coast Children's Home.

"Three million cheers for the royal commission," he said.

"They are doing a great job, helping a lot of people and exposing the horrific abuse and the cowards who abused children.

"It's hard to believe why (the legislation) wasn't allowed through before.

"Is it because the church lobbied for it not to go through?"

Mr Campion wants to move on with his life but knows the cruelty he endured during his formative years will always follow him like a shadow.

He thinks he has achieved all he can for the kids he grew up alongside - at least, the ones who managed to survive through the depression and self abuse that befalls so many young victims.

But he is not ready to hang up his hat entirely.

"If something crops up and someone else from the North Coast Children's Home wants help, I will be onto them again," he said.

"I won't let it just lie.

"People have been battling their whole lives just trying to survive."

The government will release a consultation paper on the royal commission's recommendations in the coming months. -APN NEWSDESK

Topics:  child abuse damages editors picks gabrielle upton north coast childrens home nswpol nsw politics protection sexual abuse

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