Local Bishop Bill Wright Calls for Uniform Child Protection Standards and More Support for Victims
By David Stewart
March 3, 2016
|CATHOLIC LEADER: Bishop Bill Wright said evidence presented at the Royal Commission had highlighted a "disturbing picture of how badly the church performed when dealing with reports of child sexual abuse”. Picture: Jonathan Carroll|
THE Catholic Bishop for the local region has called for a national redress scheme and uniform child protection standards in the wake of evidence heard at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Bishop Bill Wright heads the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, which includes the parishes of Morisset, Toronto, Booragul, Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay.
Bishop Wright said evidence provided by Cardinal George Pell at the Royal Commission had “helped to complete the disturbing picture of how badly the church performed when dealing with reports of child sexual abuse” at the time.
“Anyone who is a survivor of abuse or has lived their life in the Catholic Church will be finding it difficult to hear the manifold failings of the church to protect children, and this is especially true for those within our local community with the sad history of abuse in our region,” he said.
Evidence before the Royal Commission made clear the need for “structured, thorough and independent oversight for all organisations” who provide services to children, he said.
“It also shows the need for a consistent response to those who have suffered abuse. I express my strongest support for the establishment of national redress scheme and uniform child protection standards as a way forward for the community.”
The comments came in the same week the Royal Commission began public hearings in Sydney into the alleged sexual abuse of children in performing arts centres.
“The Catholic and Anglican Bishops of NSW have recently called on the state government to extend the NSW Ombudsman's oversight of all church and community group activities involving children,” Bishop Wright said.
“I encourage the local Hunter community to join us in advocating this change by talking to their local member.”
Bishop Wright said he remained committed to protecting children and working with survivors to support their healing.
“Zimmerman Services, our healing and support team, was established to assist those affected by abuse. This has included supporting survivors to provide evidence in private sessions to the Royal Commission.”
He invited anyone needing support to contact Zimmerman Services on 4979 1390.