REPRESENTATIVES from the Catholic diocese of Ballarat will front the state parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse today.
They will appear at a public hearing in Melbourne, where inquiry committee members will also hear from other Catholic groups including St John of God brothers and the Salesians. Representatives from the Christian Brothers and the Catholic Education Office are due to appear on Friday.
The Ballarat diocese has been slammed by victims and their families for covering up claims of abuse by priests and brothers in the past.
The worst offender was Gerald Ridsdale, a former priest who served in more than 10 parishes including Warrnambool and Mortlake.
Ridsdale was jailed in 1994 after pleading guilty to 46 charges of sexually abusing 21 victims over two decades.
He was also found guilty of a further 35 charges of indecent assault against 10 boys in 2006.
Ridsdale is eligible for parole in June, with a final assessment to be presented to the Adult Parole Board next month.
A volunteer researcher from victims support group Broken Rites has previously called for Ridsdale to appear before Australia’s royal commission into church child abuse.
Retired academic Dr Bernard Barrett said Ridsdale should be questioned about how the church protected him throughout his three decades as a priest.
The Catholic Church issued a statement yesterday saying it welcomed the opportunity to present to the state inquiry.
It said its statements would be available on www.facingthetruth.org.au