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Sexual abuse victim seeks compensation from NLA

The National Library of Australia (NLA) is being pursued for compensation by a Balinese man who was the victim of sexual abuse revealed in a book of diary entries by the late artist Donald Friend, according to reports from the ABC.

Around 50 years ago in Bali, when the victim was 10 years old, he met Friend, who was then aged around 55. Friend, who allegedly coerced the boy into a sexual relationship, wrote accounts of the abuse and kept drawings of the boy in his diaries, which the victim was unaware of, and which were later published by NLA Publishing.

Friend is considered one of the most accomplished figurative artists in Australia, but none of Australia’s major capital city galleries have had his work on display since public awareness of his sexual abuse has grown.

Friend’s diaries were donated to the NLA before his death in 1989 on the condition that they would be published. The diaries were edited into four volumes, the last of which, published in 2006, covers Friend’s time living in Bali and includes details about the artist’s encounters with several young boys, including the complainant.

The victim’s lawyer, Umi Martina, wrote to the NLA seeking compensation for the continuing discomfort, disturbance and trauma the book’s publication causes her client. ‘(The) Diary of Donald Friend is available in Indonesia, especially Bali (in violation of) Australian state laws and violates the laws of the republic of Indonesia, as well as human rights, especially to our client,’ Martina wrote.

The NLA confirmed to Books+Publishing in a statement that it has ‘received correspondence from an Indonesian law firm’. ‘That correspondence has been referred to the NLA’s lawyers and it is not appropriate for the NLA to comment at this time,’ said a NLA spokesperson.

NLA Publishing’s distributor, NewSouth, has all four volumes listed as out of print on its website.

Books+Publishing also contacted the editor of the published diaries, Paul Hetherington, for comment, but did not receive a response.



Category: Library news