Episcopal Standards Commission

If you wish to make an enquiry about the Episcopal Standards Commission process, report any concerns, complain or provide any information about the conduct of a bishop, please contact the Director (contact details below). If you are able, providing a one page summary about the matter you are reporting or complaining about, will assist the Director in helping you.

The following paragraphs provide information that outlines the scope of the Episcopal Standards Commission's work.

The Episcopal Standards Commission investigates certain conduct of defined classes of bishops in specified circumstances and, in appropriate cases, promotes charges in the Special Tribunal or refers to the Episcopal Standards Board the question whether the Bishop is fit for office or to remain in Holy Orders.

The work of the Episcopal Standards Commission is governed by a number of Canons of the General Synod and Protocols approved by the General Synod Standing Committee:

Canons

Episcopal Standards Canon 2007
Episcopal Standards (Child Protection) Canon 2017
Special Tribunal Canon 2007 - amended 2017
Offences Canon 1962 - amended 2017

Protocol

Episcopal Standards Protocol (General) 2011 - approved at November 2011 meeting (SC2011/2/34)​​​​​

Broadly stated, the Commission investigates the following kinds of matters:

  • Complaints of conduct of members of the House of Bishops (Diocesan Bishops and National Indigenous Bishops) and of Bishops Assistant to the Primate (Bishop to the Defence Force) which may constitute an offence under church law. (See the Offences Canon 1962, the Special Tribunal Canon 2007 and the Episcopal Standards Canon 2007.)
  • Information concerning examinable conduct of members of the House of Bishops and Bishops Assistant to the Primate which does not constitute an offence but may nevertheless call into question the fitness of the Bishop to remain in office or Holy Orders.(See the Episcopal Standards Canon 2007.)
  • Information concerning examinable conduct of current or former members of the House of Bishops, Bishops Assisting the Primate involving child abuse; impeding or undermining a professional standards process; and failing without reasonable excuse to perform a function under a professional standards process or to comply with a secular law requiring the reporting of child abuse to an appropriate authority, which conduct may call into question the fitness of the Bishop to remain in office or Holy Orders.  (See the Episcopal Standards (Child Protection) Canon 2017.)

Limits to Jurisdiction

  • There are limitations on the scope of the Commission’s functions and on the implementation of determinations made by the Episcopal Standards Board on matters which the Commission refers to it.  For example: The canons set out extensive definitions of conduct which the Commission can investigate but they also provide for qualifications and exemptions.
  • A Diocese may exclude the Commission’s power to promote a charge against a Diocesan Bishop in the Special Tribunal.

The following dioceses have excluded the Episcopal Standards Commission’s power to promote a charge against a Diocesan Bishop as at 15 August 2018:

  • Bendigo
  • Perth
  • Sydney
  • Wangaratta

The Commission’s functions and the implementation of determinations made by the Episcopal Standards Board of questions which the Commission has referred to it are circumscribed if a relevant Diocese has not adopted either or both the Episcopal Standards Canon 2007 and the Episcopal Standards (Child Protection) Canon 2017.

Dioceses that have adopted these canons are as at 15 August 2018:

     Episcopal Standards Canon 2007

  • Armidale
  • Bathurst
  • Brisbane
  • Bunbury
  • Grafton
  • Newcastle
  • North Queensland
  • North West Australia
  • Northern Territory
  • Riverina
  • Rockhampton
  • Tasmania

     Episcopal Standards (Child Protection) Canon 2017

  • Adelaide
  • Ballarat
  • Bathurst
  • Bendigo
  • Brisbane
  • Bunbury
  • Canberra & Goulburn
  • Gippsland
  • Grafton
  • Melbourne
  • Newcastle
  • North Queensland
  • Riverina
  • Sydney
  • Wangaratta
  • Willochra

The Commission does not have any powers to deal with the conduct of an Assistant Bishop who has never been a member of the House of Bishops or a Bishop Assistant to the Primate.

Complaints of conduct by a Bishop which may constitute an offence under the Offences Canon 1962 and information about the conduct of a Bishop which may constitute examinable conduct under the Episcopal Standards Canon 2007 or the Episcopal Standards (Child Protection) Canon 2017 may be sent to the Director of the Episcopal Standards Commission.

It will benefit the processing of complaints or information if their content conforms as closely as possible with the conduct proscribed by the Offences Canon 1962 or with the definition of examinable conduct in the Episcopal Standards Canon 2007 or the Episcopal Standards (Child Protection) Canon 2017, as the case requires.

Please direct any enquiry to the Director.

Contact details are:

Ms J Lum
Director of Episcopal Standards
c/- General Synod Office - Anglican Church of Australia
Suite 4 Level 5
189 Kent Street
Sydney  NSW  2000
Ph:         02 8267 2700
Fax:       02 8267 2727
Email:    esc.director@anglican.org.au