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Anglican Church of Tasmania finalises $3.65 million of compensation to survivors of sexual abuse

Anglican Church of Tasmania finalises $3.65 million of compensation to survivors of sexual abuse
The Church expects a total liability of $23 million

By Kate Ainsworth
https://www.abc.net.au/news/
31 October 2020

The Anglican Church of Tasmania has confirmed it will pay $3.65 million in compensation to 24 survivors of sexual abuse, but will look at selling more assets after its liability estimates more than doubled.

The Church expects between 150 and 200 people to come forward over 10-year period of the National Redress Scheme, with an estimated total liability of more than $23 million

The Diocese of Tasmania is selling properties to recoup costs.

It says "all the assets of the Diocese" are on the table to secure the funds.

The Synod of the Anglican Church heard on Saturday that $2.225 million will be directed towards civil litigation settlements, with a commitment to pay $1.226 million through the National Redress Scheme.

The Anglican Diocese said some of the funding has already been paid, but it will be a "matter of time" until the outstanding amount is paid, with a further $185,000 already paid to the Pastoral Support and Assistance Scheme for survivors of abuse.

"We are committed to justice for survivors of abuse," said Bishop of Tasmania Dr Richard Condie.

"We recognise that a financial payout will not remove the burden and trauma of abuse, but we believe it goes some way towards showing our sorrow for those who have suffered in this way."

The Anglican Diocese had initially estimated its liability under the National Redress Scheme to be $8.6 million in 2018, but that figure has since been revised to more than $23 million, with an estimated liability of $19.4 million remaining after the payment of $3.65 million to the 24 survivors.

Dr Condie said the revision is a result of the increasing number of people coming forward and looking towards civil litigation over the National Redress Scheme.

"With an increasing number of people coming forward and more people moving to civil litigation, we're finding we've had to revise our targets," he said.

"We're expecting between 150 and 200 people to come forward over the 10-year period of the National Redress Scheme."

The Diocese has not said how it will meet the increased financial commitment but Dr Condie said the Church has not ruled out selling some of its assets.

"All of the assets of the Diocese of Tasmania will be on the table for us to try and work out how we can secure the funds so that we can make this obligation," he said.

Selling its assets is a strategy familiar to the Church, which listed 73 churches for sale around the state in an effort to recoup costs in 2018.

The Diocese of Tasmania has already listed 73 churches for sale, including St James in Jericho.

Dr Condie said the Diocese was "about halfway" through selling these properties, with three currently on the market.

"The projection is that we will raise about $4 million from the sale of those properties," Dr Condie said.

"So we now need to address what we do with the next amount."

Dr Condie said it was not the "first desire" of the Diocese to sell more churches, but all its assets, including a number of trust funds, will be examined by a Redress Working Group when it meets later this month.

"That's [$19 million] an enormous figure, and we don't have the cash flow to cope with it," he said.

"So we're going to have to look at all the assets of the diocese to work out how we address that increased liability."

Dr Condie said he was "immensely proud" of every survivor of sexual abuse who has come forward so far.

"I count it both a tragedy and a privilege to hear the stories of survivors of sexual abuse, and to be able to give them some financial redress," he said.

"It could never compensate for the pain that they have experienced, but it is an expression of our contrition and expression of justice and goes some way to helping the healing of those people, and that is our primary motivation."

Abuse can be reported by phoning 1800 017 286.

END

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