Nov 18, 2016

Catholic Church doubles sex abuse compensation but suppresses independent report

NOVEMBER 18 2016
The Age
Chris Vedelago
Cameron Houston

The Catholic Church has pledged to double potential compensation payments for child sex abuse survivors to $150,000 but has back-tracked on a promise to publicly release an independent review into its controversial Melbourne response victim compensation scheme.

The decision is expected to upset survivors, their families and victims advocates who have been waiting for more than a year for Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart to authorise the release of the report, some of whom contributed to its creation.

In 2014, retired Federal Court judge Donnell Ryan was commissioned to examine the operation of the Melbourne Response program following complaints about its fairness.

The report was handed more than a year ago to Archbishop Hart, who had pledged to release its findings.

Anthony Foster, father of two victims of serial paedophile priest Kevin O'Donnell, said he was "stunned" by the decision.

"This is not good enough. There's been an explicit promise all along this report would be released and it should be released," he said. "We need to see the full report in order to know the Archdiocese is following through with the full recommendation of the Ryan review."

In a media statement today, Archbishop Hart announced the compensation cap would be doubled to $150,000 on the recommendation of Mr Ryan.

"The Melbourne Archdiocese is committed to a fair system of redress. We have decided it is right to both increase the compensation cap for survivors of abuse and re-visit cases for survivors of child sexual abuse if these survivors would have received a higher offer had the new arrangements been in force at the time their case was heard," Archbishop Hart said.

However, a church spokesman later said the report would not be publicly released.

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