An LCA team working on issues relating to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse will study the commission’s recommendations and explore their implications for the church. The commission handed down its final report on 15 December 2017.
The report consists of 17 volumes, one of which (Volume 16) relates specifically to religious organisations.
The LCA established the working group shortly after then prime minister Julia Gilliard called for the Royal Commission in November 2012. The group has kept abreast of the commission’s interim reports and has been the conduit between the commission and the LCA. The group has submitted seven consultation papers to the commission (www.lca.org.au/royal-commission), including, in March 2015, a contribution to the consultation on redress and civil litigation.
Along with representatives of other Australian churches and religious groups, LCA Professional Standards Manager Tim Ross is consulting with the Department of Social Services as it develops the Commonwealth Government’s redress scheme. Under the proposed scheme, which is based on one of the Commission’s 189 recommendations, there would be a lower threshold of evidence of sexual abuse but monetary payments would be capped at $150,000.
‘We are liaising positively with the department’, Mr Ross says. ‘However, until we have more information, particularly about the state governments opting into the scheme, we are unable to give an “in principle” commitment at this time. We are continuing to work with the department and other churches to achieve an outcome that will be in the best interests of abuse survivors.’
The LCA welcomes the final report of the Royal Commission, Executive Officer of the Church Peter Schirmer says.
‘This has been a wake-up call for every institution that works with children. As one of those institutions in which children have been abused, the LCA will be taking the commission’s recommendations very seriously and will shortly begin the process of reviewing them and determining what changes the LCA might need to make.
‘Over the past few years we have introduced policies and training programs with the objective of making our church a safe place for children. We will now be taking whatever additional action is necessary and demanded of us to ensure that the children in our church and children visiting our church are safe from harm.’