Newcastle Herald Letters to the Editor: Monday, November 13, 2017

Courage: Tarnya Davis, a principal clinical and forensic psychologist, says abuse victims who have spoken out are "brave men and women who have changed us".
Courage: Tarnya Davis, a principal clinical and forensic psychologist, says abuse victims who have spoken out are "brave men and women who have changed us".

IT was with shock and disgust that I heard the verbal abuse aimed directly at victims of Brother Christopher at his sentencing for childhood sexual abuse he perpetrated against two primary school aged boys in his care. This man abused two young boys in the most horrific ways, taking advantage of his power – a Brother, a teacher, an adult, a male – to meet his own sexual needs without any regard to the impact upon the child or his responsibility to protect.

I find it incredibly difficult, although I do try, to understand how a supporter of a convicted sex offender (guilty beyond reasonable doubt) might be so angry with the victim that they taunt and abuse them. “Rotten sods” one woman said to these men, who were brave enough to stand up and report their childhood experiences in a public way. I have sat beside close to 100 men and women as they have made their first disclosures, reported their experiences to the police, waited painfully for charges and mentions and more mentions and committals and trials. These people gave away their precious days, wishing their lives away in the wait for the next court date. Some fear it, all dread it, whilst others wait for the opportunity to tell their story and to be believed. When it is over, there may be some relief in being believed, or devastation in not, but the nightmares continue as does the grief for the loss of the childhood they were robbed of, the potential never met, the life they might have had. 

These brave men and women have changed us.  Thanks to them, we now know childhood abuse within the church existed and we are vigilant to make sure no more children are exposed to risk. Many perpetrators are prevented from harming others and many other victims have the courage to come forward for support.  Many tell me they held the secret horror of their abuse with such shame, but always hoped that once they disclosed they would be supported. People pitting abuse at them is in many ways a continuation of abuse and a re-triggering of their trauma. It’s being shamed all over again.

It is not these men and women who are the “rotten sods” and I thank them all for their courage, which protects the rest of society from child predators. 

Tarnya Davis, Principal Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, NewPsych Psychologists

Better use of funds

IT’S good to know in these tricky economic times that all those NSW taxpayers out there are doing so well. They don’t seem to mind a very large chunk of their money being spent to fund the cost of the street circuit and the ongoing yearly costs of staging a V8 supercar race in Newcastle for at least five years. Doesn’t anyone care that Supercars will take home profits at taxpayers’ expense? Personally, I’m a bit more picky about where my tax dollar is spent. Maybe education, public health, medical research and development? Something that might benefit the majority of taxpayers?

I had this belief that the public areas of Newcastle – built with some of my taxes – are just that: public. That for 12 months of the year, people would be able to enjoy the beaches, have their wedding or formal photos taken in the parks, see their kids enjoy the playgrounds and the trees. Not so. By November, it will have taken Supercars nine months to strip much of our public land, rip-up the grass and replace it with racetrack, pit areas and large concrete grandstand pads. Then, for at least three months every year for the duration, all those areas are fenced off and given to Supercars. We get it back just before Christmas. Lucky us.

Businesses in Newcastle have been told not to open during the event as the noise will exceed safe levels – but no-one is going to pay them for three days of lost earnings, much less the drastic drop in turnover in the lead-up. And the residents living trackside matter even less.

They’ve been told they have to be accredited to get into their own homes, then sit in the back room of those homes with ear muffs on for three days.

Whatever happened to the Aussie notion of a fair go for the ordinary bloke? That got blown out the exhaust pipe of a V8 supercar.

Keran Davis, Newcastle

Need faster rail service

THE new train timetable to be introduced soon by the state government introduces a really poor trial of the faster train concept that people from the Hunter have been hoping to happen for years.

Besides leaving Newcastle Interchange about 5am, there is no stop between Broadmeadow and Morisset, leaving people from either side of Lake Macquarie with a long drive to catch this train, rather than Fassifern or Cardiff.

Then there are four stops on the Central Coast – at Wyong, Tuggerah, Gosford and Woy Woy.

Two stops would suffice for a faster train. Plus there are unnecessary stops at Hornsby and Epping for a faster Hunter/Central Coast train.

The Hunter needs faster trains to Sydney that truly cut more time than this poorly planned attempt that only cuts a matter of minutes and doesn’t take passengers to arrive at Sydney meetings/business activities close to 9am.

We really need a state government that has Hunter transport needs to the forefront.

Stephen Dewar, Toronto

Take park and ride option

I READ many comments, mostly on social media, about the traffic chaos in Newcastle CBD and what a waste sending buses to the east end is because they are mainly empty and filthy.

I can say that all the buses I catch are extremely clean and when travelling to work in the city are not empty.

Perhaps the traffic congestion wouldn’t be so bad if selfish and snooty motorists elected to use the park and ride option.

Too often I see comments that the only people that use buses are the derelicts etc.

This generalisation is quite incorrect as many workers, including professionals and semi-professionals, are not too stuck-up to catch a bus to and from work.

By catching a bus you will save substantial amounts on parking.

Oh and when the V8 race is on things will only be worse and motorists are being urged not to drive into the city.

One more point, during the current upheaval along Hunter Street, perhaps Newcastle council should relocate the Olive Tree markets from Civic Park as they only make congestion on Saturdays worse.

I can walk between Union and Darby streets quicker than the gridlocked traffic.

Nigel Dale, Adamstown