Fewer than 10 clergy in the Melbourne Diocese have either lost their licences to officiate or relinquished their holy orders because of child sexual abuse allegations, the diocese's Director of Professional Standards, Ms Claire Sargent, told the Victorian Parliament's enquiry into how institutions have handled child sexual abuse complaints on Monday (22 April). Some others had not been appointed to roles they had sought, she said.
 
Her office held records of 46 complaints, the “vast majority” against clergy, since 1955, Ms Sargent added.  There did not seem to be any “pattern” of abuse in Melbourne diocese, as had been the case in other dioceses, and complaints seemed to relate to “opportunistic” abuse. Ms Sargent said that records before the 1990s had been “less than adequate”, but there had been increasing documentation since 2002/2003.
 
A total of $268,000 has been paid in financial compensation to 10 complaints since 2003, not including the costs of counselling and other support provided by the Diocese, the hearing heard. There are currently 685 authorised clergy in the Diocese.
 
Ms Sargent, the Archbishop, and the Diocesan Registrar and General Manager, Mr Ken Spackman, were subjected to polite but sustained scrutiny over a two-hour period into the Diocese's history of complaint handling, and its current approach, by the Parliamentary committee conducting the hearing.
 
Acknowledging that there had been failures in the past because of a lack of the necessary checks and balances, as with other community organisations, the Archbishop said the Diocese now had “a very robust system” of checks and of education. There was now a high level of both procedural fairness and independence in the diocese’s processes, he said.
 
“It is unfortunate that we cannot change the past, I wish I could,” Archbishop Freier said, “but I give a real and genuine commitment to enhance the processes and culture of …the Anglican Church, so that the road travelled by victims in the future will be one of compassion, support and understanding”.

See also:

Archbishop Freier speaks of his Church’s abhorrence for abuse, re-affirms goals of State Inquiry
by Anglican Media, 22 April 2013

No one listened to abused children: Archbishop
By Barney Zwartz, The Age, 22 April 2013 
 

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