Sexual abuse survivor meets with Tasmania's new Anglican Bishop
By Emilie Gramenz
March 20, 2016
Tasmania's new Anglican Bishop has met with a survivor of child sexual abuse in preparation for new complaints, and there are calls for other institutions nationally to follow his lead.
Bishop Richard Condie was consecrated on Saturday and is now the highest clergy member in Tasmania.
The Anglican Church reached out to abuse survivor and long-time campaigner Steven Fisher to invite him to meet with the Bishop.
It was an invitation Mr Fisher was pleased to receive.
"I believe it's a huge step for them to reach out and ask a victim to come down and actually talk to them," he said.
"It's something we've been campaigning for for 15 years."
Earlier this year, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held a 10-day hearing in Hobart.
I think if I'm going to understand that I need to talk to them, and to learn what their experience was like.
Tasmanian Anglican Bishop Richard Condie
The hearing focused on a potential multi-state paedophile ring within the Anglican Church and an affiliated youth group, the Church of England Boys Society.
Two more historical allegations of child sexual abuse have been brought to the Tasmanian diocese since the hearing.
Bishop Condie said the church needed to keep learning and improving the processes to assist abuse survivors.
"I think if I'm going to understand that I need to talk to them, and to learn what their experience was like," he said.
"It was very helpful for me to hear from [Mr Fisher] how he experienced the pastoral support scheme … he did have some criticisms of that."
Survivor heartened to hear Bishop had reached out
Bishop Condie said he was shocked by what he had heard in the royal commission.
"They're terrible stories. The abuse has been foul. To see the impact it's had on people has been really awful," he said.
Former bishop John Harrower had initiated a great deal of change in the way the Tasmanian Diocese handled complaints.
Mr Fisher said the meeting with Bishop Condie built on that process.
"This is a fantastic initiative, and credit where credit's due. I just hope other dioceses will take it on," he said.
Stephen Woods was one of a group of abuse survivors and their supporters who travelled to Rome last month to watch Catholic Cardinal George Pell give evidence to the royal commission.
He is currently receiving support from the Catholic Church to manage the impacts of the horrific abuse perpetrated against him in Ballarat.
Mr Woods was heartened to hear an Anglican bishop had reached out to understand the true impacts of abuse.
"It is something that needs to be copied with all institutions, with all organisations," he said.
While many church processes have improved, Mr Woods said the time for more proactive steps was now.
"It's not historical, it's happening now," he said.
"There are families, there are parents, there are children of survivors who are being affected now."
A draft of closing submissions from the royal commission's Hobart hearing is due later this month.