Wangaratta has voted to incorporate so as to allow survivors of clergy sexual abuse a legal entity against whom they could pursue their claims.
A rural diocese in Western Victoria has voted to incorporate under Australian law so as to allow survivors of clergy sexual abuse a legal entity against whom they could pursue their claims. The synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta joins Ballarat and Bendigo in forming a diocesan corporation. The Diocese of Melbourne will take up the issue at its synod meeting in the coming weeks. In his presidential address to the second session of the 38th meeting of synod on 4 June 2015, the Rt. Rev. John Parkes said the move to incorporate came in response to “McDermott decision of the County Court of Victoria” which said in order to comply with Victoria labour laws it was “necessary to identify an employer of clergy other than the Bishop.” The other reason to incorporate was to “have an identifiable corporate entity.” On 30 January the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released a consultation paper on Redress and Civil Litigation that said a survivor of abuse should be able to identify a legal entity for redress. “It is important that our church be seen to be on the front foot in responding to identified weaknesses in our child protection framework,” Bishop Parkes said. It is my hope and my prayer that no survivor of abuse will need to take legal proceedings against the Diocese, because our processes will already have provided proper avenues for redress. But should any person need to, then the way forward for them must be clear.”