Catholic leader wants action for abuse victims

A PEAK body representing the Catholic Church’s response to clerical child sex abuse has called on all states to immediately adopt a national compensation framework for victims. 

Speaking to The Courier before giving a speech at St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall last night, Truth Justice Healing Council chief executive officer, Francis Sullivan, said an independent compensation body was needed.

“I wrote yesterday, to all attorney generals in Australia, putting on their agenda that it’s time to put in place this national compensation scheme,” Mr Sullivan said.

“Not in, say, three or four years when the royal commission recommends it.

“I totally get that bit about people saying ‘well this is all very fine, but when are we going to see real action?’”

Mr Sullivan said there was “absolutely nothing” stopping the states from initiating such a scheme, and said it would be detrimental to victims to wait for what could be more than three years.

He said an uncapped, national compensation scheme had support from victims and advocacy groups and would involve uniform, state-based schemes that would deliver investigative powers and compensation payments for victims. 

Mr Sullivan’s council represents dioceses, archdioceses and religious congregations from across Australia before the Royal Commission.

His speech in front of a number of local child sex abuse survivors touched on Ballarat’s connection to the Catholic Church’s history. 

“It is not by chance that I have made tonight’s speech here in Ballarat, where some of the worst instances of abuse have occurred,” he said.

“We wish we could have spared so many people the tragedy and suffering they have endured.”

Ballarat survivor Andrew Collins welcomed Mr Sullivan’s request. 

“The Victorian inquiry made the same recommendation,” Mr Collins said. 

“And there is nothing from stopping the states from doing it instantly.

“I would very much applaud that, because it is sorely needed.”

patrick.byrne@fairfaxmedia.com.au