Melbourne archbishop reports on church plans to compensate abuse victims

The Anglican Church in Victoria is working on its own corporation to respond to child sexual abuse victims and help survivors obtain redress.

Melbourne Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier on 14 Oct 2015 told the Melbourne Synod, or parliament, the yet to be named company would provide a best-practice process, independent of any diocese.

Being designed by a working group led by Bendigo Bishop Andrew Curnow, the planned company was in part a response to the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse, was the most advanced in Australia and would be valuable to the national church, he said.

Dr Freier, who is metropolitan archbishop of the Victorian dioceses – Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo, Wangaratta and Gippsland – said the Royal Commission has told the church it will hold a public hearing in January into complaints and redress procedures in Anglican dioceses.

Giving his address to the synod – an annual gathering of several hundred clergy and laypeople meeting in St Paul’s Cathedral until Saturday – Dr Freier also criticised the State Government for eliminating special religious instruction in school class-time without consultation.

He said the church was in uncharted territory in dealing with the government. It was remarkable that the government acted without consultation, and even more remarkable that it announced the move as a passing reference in a media release about respectful relationships education.

He also called for proper recognition of the 30,000 Aboriginal people who died defending their land in frontier wars during European settlement. “I look forward to the day when we can make a proper recognition of their heroism and love for this land by a suitable commemoration.” The whole synod address can be read here.

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