The Melbourne Archdiocese says it has given 234 abuse survivors “top-up payments” worth more than $11 million over the past three years. Source: The Sunday Age.
The Archdiocese is standing by its Melbourne Response compensation scheme but has also vowed to improve the way it handles allegations, acknowledging that the level of clerical abuse which necessitated the scheme was now “a cause of great shame and regret”.
The comments came after The Sunday Age reported last week that under the scheme, the Archdiocese spent almost as much money paying its independent commissioner as it did compensating hundreds of survivors.
According to the Church’s own data, $34.27 million was spent running the Melbourne Response between 1996 and March 2014, but only $9.72 million – or 28 per cent of it – was used to compensate child sexual abuse survivors.
Late on Friday, the Archdiocese put out a public statement defending the process.
“The level of abuse within the Archdiocese which necessitated the Melbourne Response is a cause of great shame and regret,” it said.
“Through the Melbourne Response, the Archdiocese has provided an opportunity for survivors to tell their story, obtain redress and an apology, and to have access to counselling.”
The Church’s statement addressed long-standing criticism that the scheme capped compensation for survivors – first at $50,000, and later at $75,000.
It pointed out that since November 2016, as the Commonwealth moved towards a national redress scheme with a $150,000 threshold, people who were compensated under the earlier caps have been able to apply for more money.
“A total of 234 recipients have received top-up payments totalling $11,010,304. The average payment to these recipients is $88,944, compared to the average payment of $76,350 envisaged by the National Redress Scheme,” the statement said.
“The Archdiocese is committed to meeting – and has met – all financial commitments to those who have sought recognition and redress and have had their complaints upheld whether via the Melbourne Response, the National Redress Scheme or civil litigation.”
Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli is reviewing the Melbourne Response in the wake of the national redress scheme.
Archdiocesan statement clarifying recent media reports on the Melbourne Response (Melbourne Catholic)
Revealed: the true costs of George Pell's abuse compensation scheme (The Sunday Age)