ALA renews calls for NSW Royal Commission into child sex abuse

9th Nov 2012

The Australian Lawyers Alliance has renewed its call for a NSW Royal Commission into child sex abuse in religious institutions following further evidence by a senior police officer on the extent of abuse and alleged cover up practices in the Newcastle Hunter region.

“The disclosures by Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox on last night’s Lateline program, highlighting alleged cover ups and interference with police investigations both within the church and, it appears potentially from a higher level within the NSW Police Force, make it clear that the Catholic Church uses its power and influence to stifle police investigations,” Dr Andrew Morrison SC said.

“This is putting the interests of the church and its abusive priests ahead of the interests of the hundreds of known victims.

"The Newcastle Maitland bishop has said that church practice towards reportage of abusive priests had recently changed. However, on ABC Radio National he would not answer a question as to how many priests had been reported?” Dr Morrison said.

“Victorian Police, in its official submission, told the Victorian Inquiry that no priests had been reported by the church in that state and there was no reason to suppose that NSW was any different. Yet, this morning on radio the Bishop for Newcastle-Maitland said that church policy was to tell victims to go to police. Such a policy does not comply with the church’s legal obligation to report directly to police any serious criminal conduct of which it is aware and suggests that the church, in practice, hasn’t changed.

"So serious are these crimes, and the alleged cover up of these crimes, that nothing short of a full Royal Commission, with its powers to compel the attendance of witnesses and to produce evidentiary documents, would be sufficient to ensure proper justice, long overdue for victims of such abusive and damaging behaviour, is finally implemented.” Dr Morrison said.

Tags: NSW Access to justice Victims of crime Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse