THE Royal Commission has revealed a greatly reduced reported number of allegations of child sexual abuse within the Uniting Church than was indicated by previously released data.
At the request of the commission, the six Uniting Church synods have analysed and reclassified data to come to a tally of 430 allegations made since union in 1977. This compares to the original figure of 2504 that the Church provided for public hearings, as reported in the April edition of Crosslight.
The Crosslight report noted, “The Church would work with Royal Commission staff to clarify the data about the total number of incidents or allegations, and to give a clearer picture about whether they referred to allegations, inquiries or complaints as opposed to a finding or a report”.
The Royal Commission has now accepted the work of the Uniting Church Royal Commission National Task Group and has posted correspondence and amended statistics on its website as part of Case Study 56, Uniting Church in Australia.
The document, labelled UNI.018.001.0001, includes correspondence from National Task Group executive officer, Rev John Cox, to Ms Kate Temby, general manager, Special Projects Taskgroup for the Royal Commission, and a summary of the claims data.
The summary report states: “Of these allegations, 102 resulted in claims of child sexual abuse where the person making the allegation sought some form of redress through either a redress process or civil litigation. Of those 102 people, 83 received a settlement. The total amount of settlement monies paid was $12.35 million.”
The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania identified the highest number of allegations (200). Most of these allegations were identified in accordance with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services incident reporting requirements, the document stated.
In the Vic/Tas synod, the total amount of settlement monies paid was $2.18 million. The highest payment made to a claimant was $775,000, and the average payment was nearly $84,000.
The Uniting Church in Australia has offered apologies to all children in the Church’s care who have suffered sexual abuse of any form, whether that abuse happened after Church union in 1977 or before that, in predecessor churches.
Mr Cox reiterated that, due to the work of the Royal Commission, the responsibility for Australian faith-based organisations to engage their staff and members about child safety has never been clearer.
The Vic/Tas synod’s Keeping Children Safe policy and procedures are available for download at the Culture of Safety’s Keeping Children Safe website:
Victorian Department of Human Services Child Protection Crisis Line 13 12 78
Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services 1300 737 639
If a child is in immediate danger, call 000
Lifeline 13 11 14