The Royal Commission will hold a public hearing to inquire into the current policies and procedures of Catholic Church authorities in Australia in relation to child-protection and child-safety standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse. The public hearing will commence on 6 February 2017 at the Royal Commission’s hearing rooms in Sydney.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse will examine the current policies and procedures of Catholic Church authorities in Australia in its final public hearing into the church.
The public hearing will be held on Monday inside the royal commission’s hearing rooms at the Governor Macquarie Tower in Sydney.
The hearing will probe existing child protection and child-safe standards within the Catholic Church, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse. It will also examine factors that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse at Catholic Church institutions across Australia.
The hearing is also expected delve into the response of Catholic Church authorities in Australia to relevant case study reports and other royal commission reports. It will also examine data relating to the extent of claims of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church of Australia.
The purpose of this hearing is not to inquire into individual sets of facts or particular events as has occurred in previous royal commission case studies. The commission, which is due to deliver its final report in December 2017, stopped accepting survivors’ applications to tell their stories to commissioners in private hearings on September 30.
The Royal Commission has also advised that every Catholic Bishop in Australia (with the exception of Hobart) will appear before the full bench of the Royal Commission. Archbishop Coleridge of Brisbane has warned that the details forthcoming will be ‘grim’. The three-week public hearing will focus on the extent of child sexual abuse over almost seven decades and what church leaders are doing to protect children. Read more here.
A Destructive Aphorism: Children should be Seen and Not Heard.
The Royal Commission in its earlier service to the community in Australia produced booklets “Feeling Safe”, “Our Safety Counts” and “Taking us Seriously”. Summary advice about taking children seriously was rendered by the Royal Commission:
A key component of child abuse within institutions is the abuse of power. This can impact a child’s development of self and influence their experiences as an adult. Many survivors have a feeling of helplessness. They feel that they do not have power or control over decisions relating to their lives. A challenge for the Commission is to ensure we do not reinforce this response.
The societal norm that “children should be seen but not heard”, which prevailed for unknown decades, provided the opportunity for some adults to abuse the power which their relationship with the child gave them. When the required silence of the child was accompanied by an unquestioning belief by adults in the integrity of the carer for the child, be they youth worker, teacher, residential supervisor or cleric, the power imbalance was entrenched to the inevitable detriment of many children. When, amongst adults, who are given the power, there are people with an impaired psycho-sexual development, a volatile mix is created.