The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reported on questions of redress and provision of compensation through civil litigation, stating:
Because of the nature and impact of the abuse they suffered, many victims of child sexual abuse have not had the opportunity to seek compensation for their injuries that many Australians generally can take for granted. While it cannot now be made feasible for many of those who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse to seek common law damages, there is a clear need to provide avenues for survivors to obtain effective redress for this past abuse.
Redress and Civil Litigation Report (p.4)
The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle recognises the importance of providing a range of possible options for people affected by child sexual abuse pursuing some redress for harm caused to them. In general terms, there are four options available to a person who suffered child sexual abuse within the Diocese, each of which has different aspects.
Pursuing redress does not exclude a person affected by child sexual abuse seeking healing and support services. If a person wants more information about accessing healing and support services:
The Diocese is a member of the National Redress Scheme (NRS), which:
The Australian Federal Department of Human Services operates the NRS as an independent process. It began on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years.
If a person wants more information about the National Redress Scheme:
The Diocese is a signatory to the Towards Healing protocol and supports people who choose to seek redress through the NSW Professional Standards Office.
If a person wants more information about Towards Healing and the Professional Standards Offices
In 2010, the Diocese established voluntary protocols available to people affected by child sexual abuse to seek some just redress for the harm caused by a diocesan worker (lay, religious or clergy).
You must be legally represented to seek redress directly from the Diocese.
If a person wants more information about seeking redress directly from the Diocese:
If a person wants more information about accessing healing and support services for those affected by child sexual abuse:
The Commonwealth government-funded KnowMore service provides free, independent legal advice to those affected by institutional child sexual abuse.
KnowMore can help you find a lawyer to represent you if you want to bring a claim for personal injury (damages) against the Diocese in the civil courts.
If a person wants more information about KnowMore, the independent free legal advice service for survivors:
The Diocese supports a person affected by sexual abuse having freedom to select the most appropriate and best-suited redress process for their circumstances. However, there are reasonable limits to the freedoms of choice available once committed to a particular process, dependent on how far along the process the survivor’s matter has progressed.
The following comments are only in relation to the Diocese’s conduct, persons affected by sexual abuse should obtain independent advice about what options are available to them. For more information, access KnowMore “Free legal help for survivors” (refer above).
The Diocese will not consider a claim that has already been:
Once a survivor (“claimant”) has finalised a process directly with the Diocese, having signed a Deed of Settlement and Release and the Diocese having discharged the terms of that deed, the Diocese will not reconsider the same complaint again or agree for the PSO to reconsider the complaint. It is highly likely that the Diocese would defend the legitimacy of the signed deed should the claimant attempt to have the deed set aside through the courts.
If a claimant has sought redress directly from the Diocese and the Diocese has proceeded to attempt to settle the complaint and made a final offer for financial restitution to the claimant, but the claimant has not accepted the offer, the Diocese will not consent to the claimant pursuing the same complaint through Towards Healing.
Where the Diocese determines that there is insufficient grounds to establish, on balance of probabilities, that the alleged abuse occurred, the claimant may choose to refer their claim to Towards Healing. Clause 39.3 empowers the Director of Professional Standards to conduct an inquiry where “the facts of the case are in dispute”.