Sunbury church abuse survivor heads to Rome

Paul Levey (left) with fellow sexual abuse survivor Bruce Mills. Picture: Shawn Smits.

A Sunbury man who was abused as a child by a Ballarat diocese Catholic priest has urged people not to forget the survivors of the horrors that occurred at Salesian College.

Paul Levey said while the spotlight of the ongoing Royal Commission into sex abuse had shone brightly on Ballarat, there was a feeling that Sunbury had been forgotten by some.

‘‘I’ve had guys come up to me and say ‘Paul, what about Sunbury? No-one is talking about Salesian’,’’ he said.

A large number of Salesian College principals, boarding masters and brothers, who were at the college between 1960 and 1990, have faced court on scores of sexual abuse charges.

‘‘I know of at least a dozen men locally who were abused there,’’ Mr Levey said. ‘‘That’s not including anyone who’s moved away or were boarders from other areas.

‘‘It is a little bit disappointing. I’m 100 per cent behind Ballarat, but I would like to see our local community do more to support survivors.’’

Mr Levey is a key member of a group of Ballarat survivors who are crowdfunding a trip to be in Rome when Cardinal George Pell gives evidence to Royal Commission this month.



More than $150,000 was raised within a few days of the appeal being launched last week.

‘‘We know we’ve got a lot of support with family and things like that … but for the wider community to show this, it gives us a lot of heart,’’ Mr Levey said.

The group will only go to Rome if they are allowed to sit in the hearing with Cardinal Pell.

But Mr Levey and his partner, Michelle, will fly out this week regardless after a donor paid for their flights and accommodation.

‘‘Whether I see Cardinal Pell or not, I’m going to tie ribbons all over the Vatican and make sure people know we’re there,’’ he said.

‘‘Once Pell gives his evidence, whilst it will never end completely, it will bring major closure for a lot of people.

‘‘It will be another door to the past they can close.

‘‘When the priest went to jail for my offences, I thought that was it, but at that stage I was only 20.

‘‘I was doing drugs, I was drinking and the world just went past. Now I’ve got rid of all that – this will be it for me.’’

As reported by Star Weekly in January, Mr Levey has called on the local Catholic diocese and Salesian College to pitch in for more men’s counselling services in the area. More than $11,000 has been raised to set up the Sunbury Men’s Survivors group, but more is needed to sustain a service.

As reported by Star Weekly Mr Levey said the Centre Against Sexual Abuse (CASA) outreach clinic was under immense pressure, with only one counsellor on staff.