MELISSA Davey is deeply aware of the immense courage it takes for an abuse victim to pick up the phone and share their story.
As the person receiving calls relating to complaints and allegations of abuse in the Rockhampton diocese, Ms Davey has learnt that the best way to respond to and support healing is through listening.
Rockhampton Bishop Michael McCarthy appointed Ms Davey as the diocesan pastoral response co-ordinator, and she can be contacted via a free phone service.
Ms Davey, who has an honours degree in Psychology and works as a family counsellor at Centacare, said the first call that victims made to her could be a doorway to ongoing healing.
“It’s important for people to know that there is someone there who will listen to them,” she said.
She has promised to be “a gentle listener”.
Following the April hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which focused on St Joseph’s Home, Neerkol, Ms Davey said the diocesan response line could be seen as “the first port of call” for abuse victims.
After the Neerkol orphanage hearings, Bishop Michael McCarthy made, in his May 29, 2015 pastoral letter, a “personal and heartfelt apology” to abuse victims.
Bishop McCarthy attended the public hearings and said he admired the victims’ bravery and was deeply moved by their courage.
“I listened with a very heavy heart”, he said.
Ms Davey attended three days of hearings for the Neerkol Orphanage and said the experience was “humbling” and “confronting”.
“It is really important to acknowledge the immense courage of those who gave witness to their experiences,” she said.
Ms Davey will respond to anyone with allegations or complaints of abuse against Church personnel on 1800 830 113.