Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson says he’s pleased the Government has responded positively to calls, including from the churches, to broaden the scope of the Commission of Inquiry into the abuse of children.
That broader investigation was always needed, he says – and the governing committee of the Anglican Church had formally written to the Prime Minister in March requesting that. That letter had said, in part:
“Our primary concern is for the needs of those whose lives have been impacted by abuse, and we are conscious that abuse has been perpetrated by agencies across our society, including the Church and its agencies.
“We are concerned that it will be unhelpful to victims and survivors, if the inquiry and its process is limited only to the state sector, denying some the right to have their voices heard.”
Archbishop Richardson said today that justice must not only be done, but also be seen to be done:
“A Royal Commission of Inquiry provides a forum, a credibility and an independence, which victims and survivors of abuse and the wider public will trust.
“While I think that that those in authority in the church today have a good sense of what the scope of historical abuse of children in the care of the Anglican Church has been, we can’t be categorical about that.
“We can’t assume. That’s why independence; a well-constructed inquiry and the safety of the survivors, is so critically important.”
“Our Christian faith teaches us the power of truth, justice and reconciliation.
“We see this Commission of Inquiry as one way we can put that faith into action, and our hope is that this broader inquiry will provide a pathway to healing and wholeness for all concerned.”
The Australian Royal Commission into child abuse heard 1100 complaints of abuse suffered by children in Anglican institutions between 1980 and 2015.
“Certainly, the Australian example is very salutary,” says Archbishop Richardson.
“But regardless of whether the Australian inquiry had been held, we would have taken the same position.”