When the survivors of the Hunter region’s widespread clergy abuse gather in Civic Park, Newcastle, tonight it won’t be in loud criticism of the church.
But with plans for a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse now under way, the vigil will instead be a quiet protest against the silence of powerful institutions.
“This will be our third Silence Against Silence vigil and it will be our biggest because of everything that has come out,” event organiser and fellow survivor Bob O’Toole, of Maitland, said. “We’ve had numerous messages and emails from people saying they will be there so we are expecting a very big turn out.”
As part of the one-hour vigil, people will also have the opportunity to leave a message in a journal.
“This event has a very special feel to it and it’s very emotional and moving,” Mr O’Toole said.
“But it’s certainly not a protest, we’re not there to make a noise, this is a community event for survivors of sexual abuse and we want to keep it that way.
“We just want to help each other through this now.”
Silence Against Silence will start at 8pm.