Anglican bishop vows to support inquiry


FIRST CONCERN: Bishop of Newcastle Gregory Thompson said his first concern was that victims and survivors saw justice and received support.

FIRST CONCERN: Bishop of Newcastle Gregory Thompson said his first concern was that victims and survivors saw justice and received support.

The Anglican Bishop of Newcastle says the church will fully support police investigations into alleged sexual assaults against children.

Police have launched Strike Force Arinya-2 to investigate alleged sexual assaults involving the Newcastle Diocese of the Anglican Church, which includes Maitland, dating back to the 1970s.

The investigation will also look into how allegations were handled at the time.

In a letter to parishioners released yesterday, the Bishop of Newcastle Gregory Thompson said his first concern was that victims and survivors saw justice and received support.

“It is clear to me that in the past we did not always handle allegations of abuse in the best way,” he said.

“I am confident that our professional standards processes now create much higher levels of safety for people participating in church activities and enable us to respond promptly when concerns are raised.

“It is our practice to work closely with the police.

“We have, over recent months, provided all material we are aware of relating to allegations of child sexual abuse and the church’s response, to the royal commission.”

Bishop Thompson, who took leadership of the diocese in February, said continued public scrutiny was necessary.

He said he had pledged the diocese’s full support to police while the investigations took place.

“I want you to know that I have been concerned, since I came to the diocese, to learn of serious sexual abuse perpetrated by people within the church against children and 

vulnerable people,” Bishop Thompson said.

Police have firm policies and systems in place to manage the well-being of sexual assault victims who make a report.

Anyone who has been a victim, or has knowledge of child sexual assault by members of the Newcastle Diocese of the Anglican Church during the 1970s, should contact Newcastle Police Station on 4929 0768, 4929 0769 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.