Guidelines for Church authorities in responding to civil claims for child sexual abuse

Background and Purpose

The community expects Church authorities to pursue a compassionate and consistent approach towards victims of child sexual abuse within their institutions.

These guidelines have been prepared by the Truth Justice and Healing Council and endorsed by the Supervisory Group to promote justice and consistency in the way Church authorities handle claims and conduct litigation in relation to child sexual abuse. The guidelines are similar to the models adopted by many governments in Australia. They apply to current and future cases.

Church authorities aim to be fair, reasonable and honest in their dealings with victims of child sexual abuse. Respect and dignity will be afforded to victims, their families and other third parties affected by the abuse. Every effort will be made to ensure victims feel safe and secure, both in the telling of their stories and in the pursuit of justice. The guidelines apply flexibly and respond to the circumstances of each claim. However, they are not intended to prevent Church authorities from acting properly to defend claims that they consider should be defended.

Church authorities recognise that they cannot remove the pain and suffering of victims of abuse but they will strive, through kindness, understanding and hope, to support victims emotionally, spiritually and financially in their rightful quest to live a full life.

The guidelines commence on 1 January 2016.

Download a pdf version of these Guidelines