The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) support the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia.
Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the ACBC, and Sr Annette Cunliffe RSC, Chair of CRA, reiterated the Catholic Church’s support for the Royal Commission and the Church’s desire to openly embrace and co-operate with its work.
Archbishop Hart said that, “I am confident that the Royal Commission will enable an examination of the issues associated with child abuse nationally and the identification of measures for better preventing and responding to child abuse in all those institutions that work with children.”
The Catholic Church’s leaders have recognised that the Royal Commission will demand a sophisticated and co-ordinated response across the country.
To that end the Church has established a national co-ordinating body, to be referred to as the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, to oversee the Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission and the pastoral and other ramifications that have arisen from the sexual abuse scandal.
The Honourable Barry O’Keefe AM QC and Mr Francis Sullivan will be chair and CEO respectively of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council which will include representatives from the community to provide expertise, wisdom and guidance over the course of the Royal Commission. The Council will comprise men and women
with professional and other expertise and importantly will seek to have an effective on-going relationship with people who have been damaged by the sexual abuse scandal.
Mr O’Keefe is a former Commissioner of NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, a former Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Chairman of Interpol’s International Group of Experts on Corruption, Chairman of the
International Anticorruption Conference and was Mayor of Mosman. He is a consultant to law firm Clayton Utz and was appointed as an Adjunct Professor at Notre Dame University in 2005.