11 February 2016
Australian Bishops and Religious Leaders are morally obliged to do everything they can to ensure police are aware of incidents of child sex abuse.
Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council (pictured left) made the statement today following the publication of an article in Crux magazine earlier this week and in The Guardian today. The articles say that the Catholic church is telling newly appointed bishops that it is ‘not necessarily’ their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.
The Truth Justice and Healing Council has called for the national provision in criminal law to oblige reporting. Despite changes in some states, the law still does not require bishops to report abuse, unless the child is under 16 years of age when the report is made.
“While bishops are not obliged at law in Australia to report abuse, they are morally obliged to give as much information as possible to the police to ensure cases of abuse are dealt with in an efficient and timely manner to help ensure the offender is taken out of circulation and to limit the risk of further abuse,” Mr Sullivan said.
“If the person is over 16 when the report is made, it is still important for the police to be aware of the allegation.
“As the work of the Royal Commission continues, Church leaders in Australia are changing the way they deal with sex abuse allegations,” Mr Sullivan said.
The Truth Justice and Healing Council engages with the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual abuse on behalf of the Catholic Church in Australia.
Media contact: Judith Tokley 0408 824 306
The Truth Justice and Healing Council is coordinating the Catholic Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
For more information on the Truth Justice and Healing Council go to: www.tjhcouncil.org.au
For more information on the Royal Commission go to: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/