Ballot for survivors to attend historic apology in Federal Parliament

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison will deliver a national apology in Federal Parliament on October 22 to survivors of child sexual abuse in Australian institutions.

Survivors have until midnight on September 25 to register in a ballot that opened today for an estimated 800 places to witness the apology in Parliament House, Canberra.

Mr Morrison will deliver the apology in the House of Representatives, followed by an address to guests in the Great Hall of Parliament. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will also address the Great Hall.

“The Australian Government has listened to the Royal Commission, survivors and victims, their families and supporters,” the government’s National Apology website said.

“The Australian Government acknowledges that more needs to be done to prevent and protect children from sexual abuse in institutions. The National Apology is an important step. It will raise awareness in the community about the lifelong impact of institutional abuse and help protect future generations of children.”

There will be open viewing areas for the apology on the lawns outside Parliament House for survivors, families or survivors to sit together. People do not need to apply in the ballot to sit in this area.

The apology and addresses will be followed by a lunch which is open to the public.

Institutions will not be represented at the national apology and organisers have asked that institutional representatives attend without wearing a uniform or any clothing that identifies their institution.

“Community consultations have made it clear that representatives from institutions in official attire risk traumatising survivors. Accordingly, institutions will not be represented at the National Apology in Canberra,” the national apology website said.

Hunter survivor advocate Bob O’Toole, who contributed to a Newcastle forum to discuss the national apology, said it was good news to hear Australia’s new prime minister was prepared to honour the commitment of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Survivors and Mates Support Network founder Craig Hughes-Cashmore said Mr Morrison would be writing to all Premiers and Chief Ministers encouraging them to hold viewing events to coincide with the national apology. The event will be televised nationally.