Supreme Court stops Church’s proceedings

The Anglican Church of Tasmania has received advice that the Supreme Court of Tasmania has made an Order prohibiting it from proceeding with its church discipline process in relation to Bishop Phillip Newell.

The Bishop of Tasmania, The Right Revd Dr Richard Condie said, “I have been advised by our lawyers that the Supreme Court has made an Order prohibiting any further proceedings in the Diocesan Tribunal against Bishop Newell”.

The Court made its decision following medical advice relating to the health status of Bishop Newell.

Bishop Newell is no longer able to exercise in ministry having resigned his Licence to conduct services early in 2016.

“I am disappointed that people who were abused won’t find closure in this matter,” said Bishop Condie, “and acknowledge there will be many who will be saddened by this outcome.

“We continue to pray for all people who experienced child sexual abuse and particularly for those people who will feel let down by this decision.”

The Anglican Church in Tasmania has made significant changes to expand its Pastoral Support and Assistance Scheme for people who were abused.

Bishop Condie said, “Our church is committed to responding well and being generous towards people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse”.

“We encourage those people who were abused in the Anglican Church in Tasmania in the past to access either our Pastoral Support and Assistance Scheme or the National Redress Scheme,” said Bishop Condie.

“Redress provides a measure of restorative justice to people who were abused, as well as recognition and support.”

In February 2017 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released a report on the CEBS Case study. The report highlighted historic failures of the Anglican Church in Tasmania to care for children and was critical of the way in which Bishop Phillip Newell handled these matters in the 1980’s and 90’s.

As a result, the Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, The Right Revd Dr Richard Condie, initiated a process of Church discipline in relation to Bishop Newell.

A Diocesan Tribunal was convened so that the matter could be heard. The Honourable Ewan Crawford, former Supreme Court judge in Tasmania, was appointed to preside over the proceedings.

The Tribunal hearing was to take place on Monday 24 September 2018. It had to be adjourned as Bishop Newell had applied to the Supreme Court for a stay of the proceedings. Bishop Newell has been successful in his court case, resulting in the court making an order prohibiting the Anglican Church from conducting any further proceedings against Bishop Newell.

The Anglican Church of Tasmania was an early voice calling for a Royal Commission in 2002 and remains thankful for its work.

The Anglican Church of Tasmania 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. The church has 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. To report abuse call 1800 017 286.

Published: 4 June 2019