Newcastle Anglican Diocese Public Hearing Put Back to August So It Can Be Held in Newcastle
By Joanne Mccarthy
March 29, 2016
THE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has confirmed a two-week public hearing into Newcastle Anglican diocese will be held in the city of Newcastle itself.
The hearing will now start on August 1, and not the originally planned June 20, after the commission was unable to make appropriate arrangements for a hearing in Newcastle at the earlier date.
In a short statement on Tuesday the commission said the hearing would run from August 1 – 12, with further details closer to the hearing date.
In a Newcastle Herald article on March 15 announcing the public hearing, Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson said he hoped the royal commission would sit in Newcastle so that “the wider community can understand what’s gone on”.
“I welcome the opportunity for Newcastle to have this important inquiry into the church’s life and into serious matters that have been raised over many years concerning the abuse that took place,” Bishop Thompson said.
"It provides the opportunity to understand the culture and conduct that allowed perpetrators to work in our church.”
The royal commission is expected to explore how more than 30 child sex offenders preyed on Hunter children for decades, and whether they formed a possible network with offenders from outside the Anglican church.
The public hearing comes after a tumultuous six years in which the diocese has named a number of former priests and a former “boy bishop” as sexual abusers, has defrocked others after hearings into sexual abuse allegations, has seen a number of youth and church workers convicted of offences, and has issued a number of formal apologies for the diocese’s “shameful” past.
In June 2015 Bishop Thompson delivered a landmark apology to the Hunter region, and later said the diocese believed more than 30 church perpetrators had lived “shadow lives”, and been protected by others.
“The bad apples didn’t just happen. There was a system that protected people and when victims came forward, they were not believed. It’s a scandal,” Bishop Thompson said.