The Church has welcomed two states signing on to a national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse, despite claims by the Attorney-General that the Church is “making excuses” about joining the scheme. Source: ABC News.
In a major development, NSW and Victoria last week became the first states to sign up to the scheme, which would provide up to $150,000 in compensation to victims of child sex abuse.
Attorney-General Christian Porter, who is the architect of the scheme, has taken aim at the “underwhelming” response from the Melbourne Archdiocese after it indicated it needed more time to review the details before jumping on board.
“This issue has been reviewed more extensively probably than any issue in Australia’s recent modern history,” Mr Porter said.
“[It’s] starting to look like making excuses for the sake of making excuses and delay, which I think victims would be more than a little bit upset about.”
The Archdiocese responded in a statement that said any “fair-minded person” would agree that it is “perfectly reasonable” to see what is being proposed.
“I suggest the Attorney-General looks again at Archbishop Hart’s comments of Friday, which could not possibly be defined as an underwhelming response,” an Archdiocesan spokesperson said in the statement.
In his comments on Friday, Archbishop Hart, who is also President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said he welcomed Victoria and NSW signing onto the scheme.
“Following the recommendation of the Royal Commission ... the Catholic Church and the Truth Justice and Healing Council have consistently advocated for the introduction of a National Redress Scheme to which all survivors of child abuse can access no matter in which institution or jurisdiction the abuse occurred,” Archbishop Hart said on Friday.
“I will be carefully examining when released the arrangements under which Victoria will opt in to the proposed Scheme to ensure that the Scheme reflects the recommendations of the Royal Commission, is an appropriate scheme for victims of abuse and treats government and non-government institutions equally ... The preference of the Archdiocese is to join the Scheme and I look forward to being able to make a formal announcement when full details of the Scheme are available.”
Archbishop Hart: I welcome redress scheme (Melbourne Catholic)
TJHC calls on states and Catholic Church to join redress scheme (Truth, Justice and Healing Council)
Statement from Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP on the redress scheme (Sydney Archdiocese)
Political row over redress scheme for child sexual abuse (Sydney Morning Herald)