Ombudsman welcomes formal apology to Puffing Billy victims

Date posted:

On 25 June 2018, I tabled my Investigation into child sex offender Robert Whitehead’s involvement with Puffing Billy and other railway bodies in the Victorian Parliament.

This investigation ranged over more than five decades, and uncovered a deeply shocking story of how a life-long sex offender’s abuse was facilitated by the wilful blindness, indifference or ineptitude of a succession of organisations.

Today’s apology from the Victorian government addresses one of the nine recommendations from my report. It provides a long-overdue public acknowledgement of the failures by the state to protect innocent young victims.

While this apology cannot restore the innocence or compensate for the lifelong trauma of the victims and survivors, I welcome both the apology, and the heartfelt statements in Parliament today that accompanied it.

Survivors of the abuse who continued to seek answers showed immense bravery and persistence in bringing these matters to light, and I commend them once again for their actions. I hope today’s apology helps to provide both vindication and closure.

Read the full report - Investigation into child sex offender Robert Whitehead’s involvement with Puffing Billy and other railway bodies

System failures Public interest Child Protection