The Chief Executive of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, Mr Francis Sullivan, has urged all states to join New South Wales and Victoria in signing up to the national child sexual abuse redress scheme as Catholic leaders reiterated their long-standing support of the scheme.
"Today’s announcement paves the way for non-government organisations in NSW and Victoria to join the scheme," Mr Sullivan said.
"This would include Catholic dioceses and other Catholic Church organisations in NSW and Victoria providing access for survivors abused in Catholic institutions in these states to seek redress.
"And while Church leaders are yet to see the exact details of how the scheme will work, there has been wide-spread in-principle support from Church authorities".
Mr Sullivan said that for the scheme to become truly national other state and territory leaders must act.
"This national scheme will provide a consistent and fair response to victims of abuse no matter where or when the abuse occurred. It will be relatively straight forward for survivors compared to litigation, and it is available to survivors abused by people who have died," he said.
"We, along with others have advocated to Federal and state attorneys general and relevant ministers, for a generous, national scheme where redress is paid for by the institution responsible for the abuse.
"Survivors of abuse have been hanging their hopes on this scheme for a long, long time.
"Many have died without the apologies and the redress that should have been theirs many years ago."
Both the Melbourne and Sydney Archdioceses welcomed the announcement that Victoria and New South Wales will join the national child sex abuse redress scheme.
"Following the recommendation of the Royal Commission in its report on Redress and Civil Litigation, the Catholic Church and the Truth Justice and Healing Council have consistently advocated for the introduction of a National Redress Scheme to which all survivors of child abuse can access no matter in which institution or jurisdiction the abuse occurred," said Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.
"I will be carefully examining when released the arrangements under which Victoria will opt in to the proposed Scheme to ensure that the Scheme reflects the recommendations of the Royal Commission, is an appropriate Scheme for victims of abuse and treats government and non-government institutions equally. While this review is being undertaken, victims of abuse within the Archdiocese will continue to have access to redress under the Melbourne Response.
"The preference of the Archdiocese is to join the Scheme and I look forward to being able to make a formal announcement when full details of the Scheme are available."
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, welcomed the announcement that the NSW Government would join the Federal Government's National Redress Scheme.
"The Catholic Church has been an advocate of such a scheme from the beginning. We look forward to seeing and studying the Commonwealth legislation and details of exactly how it will be delivered as soon as possible," Archbishop Fisher said.
"It is a positive development that will provide long overdue redress to many survivors of abuse."