The Anglican Church of Tasmania has taken a decisive step today to make a significant sacrifice for survivors of sexual abuse in our organisation.
The Right Revd Dr Richard Condie, Anglican Bishop of Tasmania said, “Today is a great day for survivors of sexual abuse who have been damaged by the historic failures of the Anglican Church in Tasmania to care for children.”
“Our Synod has taken an historic step in voting to adopt a course of action which will provide redress for survivors of sexual abuse. Our people have shown they are fully committed to providing restorative justice, recognition and support to survivors of sexual abuse.
The Synod voted in support of meeting the Church’s redress obligations by way of passing the Redress Fund Ordinance.
Bishop Condie said, “We have previously expressed our desire to opt in to the National Redress Scheme. We welcome the announcements that both the National Anglican Church of Australia and the Tasmanian State Government have decided to join the Scheme. These decisions provide us with the mechanism we needed to join.
“Synod’s decision makes sure that we can participate fully in the National Redress Scheme and is a sacrificial commitment to providing justice to survivors of sexual abuse. Lives have been destroyed by past failures of people in leadership within our church. Today we stand united to do our best for those people.
“With Jesus as our model of costly sacrifice, the Anglican Church in Tasmania has shown it is fully committed to redress, whatever the cost,” said Bishop Condie. “Jesus Christ took on the punishment for the sins of the whole world, sins that he did not commit, so that he could provide restoration and forgiveness. It seems to me the costly sacrifice that our church people are prepared to make is exactly at the heart of our faith.”
The Synod has voted in support of a Redress Fund being established by: diverting 25% of Diocesan and Parish investment funds ($2.8 million); 25% of the net proceeds of sale from 108 Anglican properties ($4.7 million); and Direct contributions from parishes ($1.1 million).
Bishop Condie said, “While the Synod has voted in favour of the redress proposal, I want to reassure the community that the consultation process is not over. I understand there is a lot of community concern surrounding cemeteries. The State Government have indicated that they will review the Burial and Cremation Act 2002. I call on the Government to expedite this process to ensure the community and potential purchasers of land are clear in terms of their roles and responsibilities.”
“Parishes now have a period in which they can make a submission to exempt a property from sale. Local communities are also welcome to express their concerns about church property marked for sale. They are invited to address their submission to the General Manager of the Diocese before 1 September 2018.
“We want to provide concerned members of the community with an opportunity to work out how they can help preserve part of Tasmania’s heritage, while allowing us to meet our redress obligations,” he said.
Diocesan Council will make its final decision in December. Bishop Condie also announced today that the Diocese has engaged an independent Probity Advisor to oversee the decision-making process.
“Mr Harvey Gibson will be retained by the Diocese to review all the submissions and ensure that the processes undertaken by the Diocesan Council are fair and open to scrutiny”, Bishop Condie said.
The Synod has also voted in favour of adopting General Synod Canons (which are National Church laws) ensuring a consistent approach across the nation with respect to Child Protection measures.
The General Synod legislation that was adopted comes out of a response to the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This legislation will deliver a national Anglican Church approach to the protection of children.
They include: uniform standards for Bishops as they relate to the protection of children; an amendment to the Offences Canon which includes provisions relating to offences involving child abuse; a Canon concerning hearing a confession of child sexual abuse; and a Canon bringing clarification around the removal of Holy Orders.
The church has instituted many changes over the last eighteen 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.