A LEADER of victim support has lauded Emmanuel College's plaque unveiling today as a symbol of much-needed hope.
Emmanuel College will unveil plaques at its Canterbury Road campus this afternoon recognising the failure of leaders within the Catholic Church to respond to reports of historical sexual abuse.
In Good Faith Foundation president Paul Holdway welcomed the plaque unveiling.
"I think it's courageous, in a good way," he said.
"It is showing leadership. It's embracing the power of a ritual response. In many many places this sort of leadership has been lacking."
Mr Holdway said he had been involved in a similar project at Melbourne's Xavierr College.
He said today's unveiling was a significant for the south-west.
"This region has been socially and and culturally damaged by a epidemic of clergy abuse over 80 years," he said.
"This is a symbol, a much need symbol in the local region. We hope others will follow this lead.
"Emmanuel College is taking the step of acknowledging those who have taken their own lives ... it's impressive. The college is genuinely engaging in what the issues are."
In Good Faith Foundation is an abuse recovery support charity.
Mr Holdway is a principle of Lewis Holdway Lawyers, in Melbourne, and in 2010, he was awarded the Law Institute of Victoria President's Award for long standing work with victims of clergy abuse.
The foundation has come about after service to thousands of survivors, their families and community members in Victoria, across Australia and internationally during almost 20 years.
Mr Holdway said he was first involved with an abuse victim 23 years as a junior lawyer helping on a case.
"And the rest is history. One case has just led to another and it's still going," he said.
"The foundation absolutely fills a gap. The standard services don't deal with the spiritual abuse dynamic ... the impact on faith and belief systems. Our service is need now more than ever.
"We provide a central point for expertise for victims/survivors to tap into, to end their isolation and promote their healing and recovery while responding to their individual needs.
"The foundation has 650 clients on its books."
Mr Holdway said some funding was provided by State and Federal governments and generous private donors.
"But it's very hard to get funding and it's not adequate for the work we do," he said.
"We have got some support through the royal commission as the redress scheme support service," he said.