Greens campaign to help abuse victims get church assets
Sydney Morning Herald
29th May 2012
Updated 29th May 2012
VICTIMS of alleged sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests claim they have been denied adequate compensation because the church has its assets locked up in property trusts.
The NSW Greens released a draft bill yesterday that aims to hold the Catholic Church financially responsible for such abuse.
The Greens MP David Shoebridge said the NSW Court of Appeal held, in a landmark 2007 case, that the church's assets, controlled by property trusts, could not be accessed by victims of sexual abuse.
''With the accused priest either penniless or deceased, and the church itself not being a legal entity able to be sued in its own right, victims of sexual abuse are left with no legal remedy,'' Mr Shoebridge said.
If adopted, his bill would allow victims of abuse to directly sue the church's property trusts.
Nicky Davis, a spokeswoman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said many victims felt ''re-abused and abandoned'' when they received no support to pay for their ongoing treatment.
''When we are sexually exploited by these monsters we are made to feel completely worthless,'' she said.
''When the church denies the abuse ever happened … we are made to feel completely worthless. When we are denied any sort of assistance to recover from this abuse, we are once again made to feel completely worthless.''
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said it was ''untrue and a serious misunderstanding of the facts to claim that Catholic bodies and officials cannot be sued by victims of sexual abuse''.
Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) - the national support and advocacy network for people who were raised in Australia’s orphanages and children’s Homes, endorses and fully support the Greens MP David Shoebridge’s proposal regarding the draft bill of freeing up assets of the Catholic Church to provide compensation for those abused by the Catholic Church.
However there is a need to look at ALL Churches, Charities and the State Government that were involved in orphanages and children’s Homes; where so many children suffered terrible abuse and neglect and where horrific crimes were committed against these vulnerable children. NSW has had no state based inquiry and does not have a Redress scheme – unlike WA, QLD and TAS.
All Churches, Charities and the State Government need to be made accountable and held responsible for their actions and inactions in dealing with such situations. All past providers of institutional care have spent large amounts of money trying to avoid compensating people who have suffered at the hands of systematic and endemic abuse of Churches, Charities and the State Government.
The true story needs to be exposed by a Royal Commission.