Revealed: the true costs of George Pell’s abuse compensation scheme

The Age

June 30, 2019

By Farrah Tomazin

The controversial scheme set up by George Pell to handle sex abuse claims against Melbourne’s Catholic Church spent almost as much money paying its independent commissioner as it did compensating hundreds of victims.

The church’s own figures reveal that between 1996 and March 2014, the archdiocese spent $34.27 million to run its so-called Melbourne Response, but only $9.72 million – or 28 per cent of it – was used to compensate 307 child sex abuse victims.

The bulk of the money during that period was spent on other operational costs for the scheme, including $7.8 million to employ barrister Peter O’Callaghan, QC, as its independent commissioner, and a further $4.7 million on general legal fees.

Mr O’Callaghan’s job was to determine the credibility of victims’ claims and make suggestions about what action to take against alleged abusers.

Another $432,000 was used to fund the compensation panel that made recommendations about ex gratia payments, and $11 million was used to fund the church counselling service known as Carelink, most of which was spent on staff and administration.

The figures, contained in a spreadsheet labelled “strictly confidential”, are the most up to date the archdiocese has ever been required to provide publicly. They were subpoenaed by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as “supplementary information” and until now have been buried in thousands of documents that form part of the commission’s landmark inquiry.

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