Church explains how child sex abuse redress scheme will work
THE Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has explained why the Catholic Lismore Diocese has joined the National Redress Scheme as a limited, incorporated company.
The scheme was set-up in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and started in July 2018.
A spokesperson for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, speaking also on behalf of Bishop Gregory Homeming, explained the Lismore Diocese joined the scheme with another 32 other Catholic institutions.
"Given their long-standing commitment to the National Redress Scheme, the bishops of Australia's 35 Catholic dioceses considered how they could participate with the scheme most effectively," he said.
"Forming a single agency - ultimately a company, limited by guarantee - was the preferred approach, both from the bishops and from the government."
However, the reason why this agency is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission was not explained.
The spokesperson said creating a company was the preferred legal set-up by the Government and the Conference.
"The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference established Australian Catholic Redress Limited as that company, providing a single access point for interaction between the Scheme and those 35 dioceses - and the approximately 5,000 Catholic sites for which they are (or have been) responsible," he said.
"In December, Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher announced that Lismore Diocese is now a participating institution in the National Redress Scheme and applications to the Scheme related to ministries run by the Diocese can now be processed.
"The Diocese entered the Scheme via Australian Catholic Redress Ltd, a company established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to represent dioceses in the Scheme.
The Department of Human Services will now send requests for information (RFI) for redress applications that relate to diocesan entities - parishes, diocesan schools and diocesan ministries - to Australian Catholic Redress Ltd, which them will direct such requests to the Lismore Diocese.
The Diocese must then provides information it holds that is relevant to the application to the Department, to enable an independent assessor to make a determination of the appropriate level of redress.
Applicants have six months in which to decide whether or not to accept the determination.
Among the roles of Australian Catholic Redress Ltd is ensuring timely and thorough responses are provided by Dioceses to facilitate efficient and effective operation of the Scheme.