Towards healing and justice
Photo: The Moderator Rev. Myung Hwa Park outside Knox Grammar School, where ribbons honoured survivors of sexual abuse.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you; leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24
Why a redress scheme?
As The Royal Commission continues its consultation into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Uniting Church in Australia remains committed to playing an active role in contributing to the healing process of survivors of sexual abuse and those closest to them (including their families). Throughout this process, our priority has been on reconciliation and the needs of survivors. As the inquiry continues, it is clear a sensitive redress process needs to occur as a matter of priority.
The impact of child sexual abuse is felt for a long time. Not only by survivors but for their families and those they are close to. The legal process can be arduous and we acknowledge this has had a negative impact on many involved.
Many survivors who provided evidence at The Royal Commission expressed a strong need for an alternative to civil litigation in making claims.
This valuable feedback has prompted the Church to develop a more compassionate approach to redress and to supporting survivors, reflecting our values in a way which will positively contribute to the long term healing and justice for survivors and their families. Pastoral contact with the Church is a central part of this approach.
At this time, we are in consultation with our agencies to develop a redress scheme based on the elements outlined by The Royal Commission in January.
These elements require a direct and personal response by the institution if the survivor chooses to engage with it, including an apology and face-to-face engagement with a senior member of the Church. This may include access to therapeutic counselling and psychological care as needed throughout a survivor’s life, and monetary payment as a tangible means of recognising the wrong survivors have suffered.
In the second half of 2015, the Royal Commission will publish its final report on redress and civil litigation.
These elements of redress will be guided by specific principles. They will be survivor-focused, as well as being offered, assessed and provided with appropriate regard given to the needs of particularly vulnerable survivors. They also will ensure access to redress can be obtained with minimal difficulty.
We look forward to reviewing the Royal Commission’s recommendations. We will continue to act to ensure our Church is the safest possible place for those in our care. We will continue to provide updates through Insights and e-newsletters, as part of our ongoing commitment to transparency and openness.
The Royal Commission in January outlined elements of a redress scheme — www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au
Lodging a complaint
Reports of child sexual abuse in the Uniting Church in Australia, or a Uniting Church agency, should be reported to the police in the first instance.
If you would like to make a complaint, please contact Rev. Jane Fry, Associate Secretary, Synod of NSW and ACT
- Email — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone — (02) 8267 4452
- Mail — Addressed to “Confidential”, The Associate Secretary, Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of New South Wales and ACT, PO Box A2178, Sydney South, NSW, 1235.
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