The Anglican Church in Tasmania will have to make significant sacrifices to fund redress for survivors of child sexual abuse.
The Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, The Right Revd Dr Richard Condie, today said, “The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania is committed to redress for survivors of sexual abuse and hopes to join the National Redress Scheme”.
“With an estimated liability of around $8 million in new and additional payments to survivors, it will require decisive action and significant sacrifice for everyone across our Diocese,” he said.
“We intend to raise these funds from a proportion of Parish and Diocesan investments, through selling Parish properties, and by direct Parish contributions. Every Parish in the Diocese will be affected.
The Diocese will propose to its Synod (annual meeting of all Parish representatives) in June that they sell over 120 church properties, which is just under half of all its properties.
Bishop Condie said, “I understand that the sale of churches causes pain and sadness for church members as well as the wider local community. They have been an important part of our Tasmanian heritage. However, our commitment to justice, recognition and support of survivors through providing redress underlies the need for this sacrifice”.
“Leading into Easter our church observed a time of lament and repentance for the historic failures of the Anglican Church in Tasmania to care for children. We must not let our words be empty, but rather do all we can to provide justice for those affected by these past failures.
“Our Vision is to be a church for Tasmania, making disciples of Jesus. I believe that acknowledging our past failures and making redress, honours Jesus and will bring restoration.”
The church is still finalising the details, but will recommend to the June Synod that the $8 million will be raised by:
- A proportion of Parish funds;
- A proportion of several Diocesan Trusts that fund ministry; and
- A proportion of the proceeds of sale of over 120 properties including churches, halls, houses and vacant land.
“We have not yet finalised the list of the properties that will be identified for sale, however I expect that we will be able to release these details within the next few weeks,” said Bishop Condie.
The Church would welcome expressions of interest from local groups, councils and individuals to keep some of our buildings in community hands.
The Anglican Church of Tasmania was an early voice calling for a Royal Commission in 2002 and remains thankful for its work.
In addition to its desire to join the National Redress Scheme, the Diocese of Tasmania will continue to operate its own redress scheme, and this week agreed in principle to increase the cap of the Pastoral Support and Assistance Scheme (PSAAS) to $150,000 per claim. The details are being finalised.
“Previous claimants will be entitled to have their claims reassessed. This may result in an additional payment,” Bishop Condie said.
“The PSAAS will continue to operate after the National Redress Scheme commences so that people who are unable to join the national scheme (eg. non-Australian citizens, those with a criminal conviction or people who were abused as adults) can still access redress through the PSAAS.
The church has instituted many changes over the last fifteen years in order to protect children and prevent abuse. The safety of children and vulnerable people in our church communities is paramount. We have been working hard to screen, educate and develop church leaders and volunteers who are working with vulnerable people. We have improved our response to and support for survivors of sexual abuse. We have no tolerance for abuse of any kind.