Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
The Anglican Church of Australia has supported the work of the Royal Commission since its establishment in 2013.
The Royal Commission has conducted public hearings into ten case studies involving Anglican Church authorities.
At the final public hearing for the Anglican Church of Australia the following statements were issued:
In March 2017 the Royal Commission published the findings of the Anglican Data Project detailing the extent of complaints of child sexual abuse received by Anglican Church dioceses.
On 15 December 2017 the Royal Commission presented its final report to the Governor General. Archbishop Phillip Freier issued a statement of acknowledgement of the work of the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission Working Group
The Royal Commission Working Group was established in November 2013 by resolution of the General Synod Standing Committee:
1. The Standing Committee:
a. reaffirms the commitment of the Anglican Church of Australia to the physical, emotional and spiritual safety and welfare of the children in its care;
b. repeats the apology made by the Thirteenth Session of General Synod in October 2004 to all children who have been sexually abused by clergy and church workers of the Anglican Church of Australia;
c. welcomes the announcement of the establishment of a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse covering organisations including churches; and
d. welcomes the opportunity the Royal Commission will bring for the Anglican Church of Australia to review its policies and procedures to protect children from harm.
2. The Standing Committee, recognising the importance of a national response on behalf of the Anglican Church of Australia, establishes a Royal Commission Working Group with the following functions:
a. To participate in the consultation on the terms of reference of the Royal Commission;
b. To facilitate a review of past complaints of child sexual abuse notified to the dioceses and associated Anglican schools and agencies, and ensure that all appropriate steps have been taken in dealing with those complaints including reporting them to the police where appropriate.
c. To identify the policies and procedures currently in place in each of the dioceses and associated Anglican schools and agencies to respond to and prevent child sexual abuse.
d. To identify national best practice policies and procedures to respond to and prevent child sexual abuse and facilitate their implementation by the dioceses and associated Anglican schools and agencies including arranging for the preparation of all necessary legislation for the next General Synod.
e. Prepare all submissions necessary to respond to the Royal Commission.
f. Advise dioceses on their response to and participation in the Royal Commission.
g. Co-ordinate management of issues arising out of the Royal Commission in the Church and public domain.
h. Contribute to the development of a more national framework for child protection.
i. Such other functions necessary to respond to the Royal Commission.
3. The Standing Committee requests the Royal Commission Working Group to consult with the Safe Ministry Commission in fulfilling its functions and such other persons it considers appropriate.
4. The Standing Committee requests that each of the dioceses and associated Anglican schools and agencies fully cooperate with the Royal Commission Working Group including providing all relevant information, and assistance necessary to fulfil its functions.
The current members of the RCWG are:
- The Primate (ex officio)
- The General Secretary (ex officio)
- Mr Garth Blake SC (Chair)
- Ms Sue Harrington (Lawyer, SA)
- Mr Ken Spackman (Diocesan Registrar, Vic)
- Ms Helen Miller (Counsellor, NSW)
- Ms Kasy Chambers (CEO Anglicare Australia, ACT)
- The Rev’d Andrew Ford (General Manager Mission and Partnerships, Anglicare Sydney)
- Ms Sherril Molloy (Member of the Executive, Anglican Schools Australia, Qld)
Ms Anne Baker has supported the RCWG in the role of Royal Commission Officer since June 2016.
Work undertaken by the Royal Commission Working Group (RCWG)
The RCWG has met on a number of occasions each year since its establishment in November 2013. It has undertaken a range of tasks in response to the outputs of the Royal Commission.
One of the RCWG’s first undertakings was to encourage the 23 dioceses of the ACA to conduct a review of all child sex abuse complaints, documentation, policies, protocols and practices operating in each diocese.
Royal Commission Case Studies – Public Hearings:
The RCWG has monitored the Royal Commission hearings into Anglican entities and in some instances has sought leave to appear. The objective of the RCWG in monitoring the public hearings and reports associated with the case studies is to identify emerging issues and recommendations which should be taken into account in the development of policies and procedures in the Anglican church of Australia.
- Case Study 3 – Grafton Anglican Diocese
- Case Study 20 – Hutchins School Tasmania
- Case Study 25 – Redress and civil litigation
- Case Study 32 – Geelong Grammar School, Victoria
- Case Study 34 – Brisbane Grammar Schools and St Paul’s School, Queensland
- Case Study 36 – Church of England Boys Society
- Case Study 42 – Anglican Diocese of Newcastle
- Case Study 45 – Problematic Behaviour in Schools – Trinity Grammar, Sydney and The Kings School, Parramatta
- Case Study 46 – Criminal Justice issues and Consultation Paper
- Case Study 52 – Anglican Church Authorities in Australia
Royal Commission Issues Papers:
The RCWG has reviewed the issues papers circulated by the Royal Commission and identified issues of relevance to operations within the ACA.
The RCWG has coordinated submissions on behalf of the Anglican Church of Australia in response to the following issues papers:
- Issues Paper 1 – Working With Children Checks
- Issues Paper 3 – Child Safe Institutions
- Issues Paper 4 – Out of Home Care
- Issues Paper 5 - Civil Litigation
- Issues Paper 6 – Redress Schemes
- Issues Paper 8 - Experience of Police and Prosecution Responses
- Issues Paper 10 – Advocacy Support Therapeutic Treatment Services
Royal Commission Consultation Papers:
The RCWG has coordinated submissions on behalf of the Anglican Church of Australia in response to the following consultations papers:
- Redress and Civil Litigation - March 2015
- Complaint handling and response - April 2016
- Records and Record Keeping - September 2016
- Criminal Justice - October 2016
Royal Commission Round Tables
The RCWG has coordinated participation in private round tables conducted by the Royal Commission:
- Redress – September 2014
- Child Safe – April 2016
Royal Commission Research Studies:
The RCWG reviews all research released by the Royal Commission to identify issues relevant to the operations of the ACA. The most recent reviews have included:
- Service and support needs of specific population groups
- Risk profiles for institutional child sexual abuse
- Our Safety Counts Research reveals new insights into children’s view of safety
- Evidence and Frameworks for understanding perpetrators
- Principles of trauma informed approaches to child sexual abuse
The RCWG has engaged with other churches and faith based organisations in addressing the issues arising from the work of the Royal Commission. Regular meeting have been held to facilitate the sharing of information. More specifically in 2015 and 2016, the Chair of the RCWG and the General Secretary has participated in meetings with representatives of the main churches to facilitate a consistent response to the recommendations in the Royal Commission’s Report on Redress and Civil Litigation.