Response to The Hon. Justice McClellan AM Keynote – President Stuart McMillan

His Honour has outlined again for us the devastating effects of child sexual abuse on survivors and often on their families – and it’s to our great shame as a society that this is the case.

Our first priority as a Church has to be the survivors – their wellbeing and opportunities for those people to be afforded justice and healing and perhaps in time reconciliation.

Jesus who is the one that we are followers of, called the children unto himself and Jesus acted in a way in the society of his time with respect to children and His Honour has reminded us of changes in our society over a period of time when I think the words were “When children are supposed to be seen not heard” which allowed them to be quite vulnerable in our society. Thankfully it has changed over time.

But as a Christian community we understand the value that Jesus placed on children and we place that same value on the safety and care and welfare of children not only in our care but in the community

We will continue, Commissioner, to engage constructively with the Royal Commission. We look forward to the report that’s coming out in August and the recommendations of that report. We are going to need to take very seriously the conversation about civil litigation and how this church responds to that situation so that we are able to offer the care that we say is foremost in our mind.

You raised child-safe practices and indeed there have been learnings for us out of the Royal Commission in that area, and as you mentioned there is substantial education happening right across the church in the area of safe church practices. You mentioned the audit and the possibility of that becoming something that might be legislated. Certainly in some of the jurisdictions of our church, those safe church practices have already been implemented. And so we continue to gain from the learnings of the Commission and again we look forward to what comes from the reporting of this.

The last thing I will mention is the redress scheme which you spoke of. Certainly our church has endorsed and supported the concept of a national redress scheme and given that particularly the survivors are looking for that kind of redress scheme, we will continue to work with the Commission and with governments to achieve the best outcome for survivors from a redress scheme.