“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. […] The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.” Pope Francis
The Royal Commission
The Truth Justice and Healing Council is coordinating the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with a commitment to justice and compassion for survivors.
The Royal Commission was established by the Federal Government in 2012 to investigate how organisations such as the Catholic Church responded to victims and allegations of abuse over the past decades. It will make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse in institutions. It’s work will be completed by the end of 2017 following a two year extension granted by the Federal Government.
The leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia have made a Commitment Statement recognising and acknowledging the crimes of the past and the devastating harm caused by child sexual abuse. Church leaders have committed to repairing the past wrongs, listening to and hearing survivors, putting survivors’ needs first and doing everything possible to ensure a safer future for children.
It is vital that during the Commission hearings victims can tell their stories, so the complete truth comes out and a sustainable process of healing and reconciliation is developed, resourced and implemented by the Church.
Victims and survivors need to be supported and encouraged to speak their truth and their voices need to be heard. It will be painful and traumatic for many.
The Church has and will continue to offer victims and survivors of Church sexual abuse compensation and it will do this without imposing confidentiality conditions.
Any past confidentiality agreements will be waived so victims and survivors can tell their stories to the Royal Commission.
If you are concerned a confidentiality clause in an agreement you have signed could prevent you telling the Commission your story, contact the Council so we can assist you.
Within the Church there are already a number of established services for victims and survivors of sexual abuse.
Towards Healing is the Church’s overarching response to dealing with sexual assault within the Church.
Catholic Social Services Australia: is the national network of Catholic social services. The majority of members provide counselling and support services.
Victims and survivors can also contact non-church support groups and services:
- List of support services on the Royal Commission website
- Broken Rites, and Australian support group
- Bravehearts, an Australian support group
- Adults Surviving Child Abuse, Australian peak body which advances the health and wellbeing of people and communities affected by childhood trauma
- Survivors & Mates Support Network, for men coping with the effects of childhood sexual abuse
- SNAP, survivors’ network
- Lifeline, 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention
- Headspace, mental health support for young people
- Men’s Line, telephone and online counselling support for men
- 1800RESPECT, national sexual assault domestic and family violence counselling service
- Ethi-call, confidential ethics counselling service offered free by St James Ethics Centre – an independent organisation with no religious or political affiliations. If you are having trouble deciding whether to report abuse in the Church this free service may help.
- Knowmore an independent service with specialist trained staff to provide legal information and advice for telling your story to the Royal Commission.
- Department of Social Services (DSS) more information about the Royal Commission and support services including facts sheets FAQ’s, support services and media releases.