Church in Australia Plans Reform for System on Handling Sexual Abuse

Going Forward While Foreseeing Delayed Government Response

Sydney, Australia, (Zenit.org) | 999 hits

The Church in Australia is looking to overhaul its system for handling clerical sexual abuse cases. Catholic leaders have endorsed the development of a reform agenda.

According to the blog of the Australian bishops, Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, said the reforms are now being fully developed and will be presented to Church leaders in the first half of 2014.

“These proposals recognize that we must do better when we are dealing with victims of sexual abuse and as we work to make sure our institutions are as safe as possibly for children,” Sullivan said.

Proposals include:

-- appointing independent compensation commissioners to determine payments to victims who go through the victim response process known as Towards Healing. This would separate the pastoral responses in Towards Healing from the determination of financial payments
-- the appointment of lay and independent experts to strengthen the Church’s National Committee of Professional Standards
-- the introduction of an independent national board to develop and administer national child protection standards. The board would monitor adherence to these standards and publicly report on compliance
-- the board would also provide more rigorous assessment, monitoring, auditing and enforcement of Towards Healing practices
-- the introduction of greater transparency through public reporting by both the new national board and the Towards Healing process.

The reform proposals are outlined in the Truth Justice and Healing Council’s Towards Healing submission to the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

“While the Church supports calls for a national scheme, it would have to be a recommendation from the Royal Commission which is accepted by Governments, it could take many years to establish and may face significant constitutional hurdles," Sullivan explained. "This is why the Church is going ahead with developing its own reform proposals which could be put in place as soon as late next year and could work alongside any future national scheme. They could be revised in the light of recommendations from the Victorian Parliamentary and Cuneen inquiries and the Royal Commission itself."

--- 

On the Net:

The Truth Justice and Healing Council Towards Healing submission can be seen at: http://www.tjhcouncil.org.au/media/39435/30549468_2_TJHC-Towards-Healing-submission-30-Sep-2013.pdf

For more information on the Truth Justice and Healing Council go to: www.tjhcouncil.org.au

For more information on the Royal Commission go to:
http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx