Media Statement March 17, 2017

Media Statement | 17 March, 2017


Re. Independent Review following decisions about residential arrangements at Lanigan House

Mistakes have been made and I accept full responsibility for my poor judgement in deciding to place Fr Brian Hassett, a retired priest removed from ministry due to allegations of
abuse, at Lanigan House in Garran.

I sincerely apologise for the hurt and pain that my decision has caused across the Canberra community over the past fortnight.

Last night, 16 March, I attended a meeting of parents, families and staff at Saints Peter and Paul primary school, Garran. Questions were asked, concerns raised and mistakes highlighted.

As a result of the failings in how this matter was dealt with, I have decided to launch an independent review of the decision to relocate Fr Brian Hassett to Lanigan House.

Barrister, Ms Jane Seymour, will carry out this independent review.

The review will investigate the basis for the original decision, the evidence used including the findings of the risk assessment, the key people involved in the decision and the legislation that was relied upon at the time of the decision.

The review will also examine my response to the matter once the location of Fr Brian Hassett became public and community concerns were raised.

The findings and recommendations of the review will be published in May 2017 and my response to the review report will also be published in June 2017.

I reiterate that as a Church we cannot be careful enough in the area of child protection. The lessons learnt from this experience must change our processes to ensure that such
failings do not occur again.





A review into the process leading to the decision by the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn to place a priest with sustained findings of inappropriate behaviour into Lanigan House.

Terms of Reference

The independent review of the decision by the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn (the Archdiocese) to place a priest with sustained findings of inappropriate behavior into Lanigan House will prepare findings and recommendations on the process underpinning this decision.

The review will examine all aspects of the decision making process resulting in the relocation of this priest to Lanigan House, including but not limited to:

  • The basis of the original decision, including all individuals involved.
  • The documentary evidence including the use and suitability of the risk assessment tools used in this case.
  • Consultation with key stakeholders including, but are not limited to, the Archbishop, Vicar General, Institute of Professional Standards and Safeguarding, Manager Clergy Support, Financial Administrator, Chancellor, Consultors, Catholic Education, the Principal, Executive and School Council of Saints Peter and Paul Primary School, ACT Education Directorate and Malkara School
  • Key legislation relied upon regarding this decision.

The review will also examine the response by the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation once knowledge of this priest’s residence became public, including but not limited to the decision to remove this priest as well as the management and handling of media and community enquiries.

The Chancellor of the Archdiocese will be the main point of contact and oversee the progress of this review. He will provide logistics support to the review as required.

The reviewer will have full access to all material for examination. Archdiocesan agencies will co-operate fully with the review and provide any requested assistance.

The methodology for conducting this review will be determined in consultation with the reviewer.


The findings and recommendations of the review will be forwarded to the Archbishop by the end of May 2017.

The Archbishop will make a considered response by the end of June 2017. The review report and the response will be made publically available.

Media Statement March 17, 2017 (pdf - 78.04 KB) Independent Review (pdf - 147.20 KB)