Catholic Church signs up for national redress scheme for victims of child sex abuse

31 May 2018

Catholic Church signs up for national redress scheme for victims of child sex abuse

Image credit: Liam Kidston

The Catholic Church has signed up for a national redress scheme for victims of child sex abuse, bringing victims closer to receiving compensation.

The church has now become the first non-government organisation to join the national scheme, making it a major step forward to bringing consolation and justice to the institutional abuse inflicted upon thousands of young children.

The church’s governing bodies, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia, wrote to the Government saying they were keen to participate “to limit future trauma for survivors of abuse in obtaining redress from the Church”.

“We support the royal commission’s recommendation for a national redress scheme, administered by the Commonwealth, and we are keen to participate in it,” ACBC President Archbishop Mark Coleridge said in the statement.

“Survivors deserve justice and healing and many have bravely come forward to tell their stories.”

Archbishop Coleridge said that given the church’s diverse nature, it would create and implement a “simple and cost-effective” agency to respond to all compensation claims.

“It’s been a long time in the making, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been a little slower on this than we would’ve wished to be,” he told the ABC’s PM program.

Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said the Church was “expecting to be paying out for survivors for many years to come”.

” …and we stand ready to do that. We are going to back that [with] our insurance and our assets. We are determined to bring justice and full redress, healing if we can, to the victims of this terrible crime.”

Over 2,500 victims of child abuse in Catholic-run institutions gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, making that 62% of all survivors to report abuse.

The move from the church is expected to influence more non-government bodies to sign up to the scheme, with Social Services Minister Dan Tehan saying, “Today shows remorse, it shows [the Catholic Church] are prepared to take responsibility and it shows they want to offer redress to those survivors.”

“I expect to announce as early as tomorrow more institutions coming on board.”

The scheme, which all states are involved in, except Western Australia, offers $150,000 to the victims as well as counselling.