The leader of the Catholic church in the Hunter has thrown his support behind a suggestion to repeal a time limit for victims of child sexual abuse to pursue civil litigation against the church and its clergy.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse discussed a possible repeal in its consultation paper, which was released on Friday.
It also earmarked the possibility of a national redress scheme, which would involve the federal government and institutions that were responsible for child sexual abuse.
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright said in a written statement that a significant number of Catholic church abuse victims were from the Maitland-Newcastle region.
He said the church was committed to continuing to support abuse victims.
“As I have stated previously, I strongly support the royal commission in its mission to investigate and recommend improvements to laws, policies and procedures to better protect children,” Bishop Wright said.
“Together with the Truth, Justice and Healing Council I also advocate a national compensation scheme for victims of child sexual abuse, to ensure equity and consistency and, above all, a fair outcome for victims – regardless of which state they live in.”
Bishop Wright said he recognised that it could take victims a long time to be in a position to speak about the abuse they suffered, so he supported the removal of any time limits that are in force for taking civil action.
“Our diocese will continue to support victims of abuse regardless of whether a national compensation scheme is introduced or not, with continued support through our Child Protection Unit – Zimmerman Services, and assistance and counselling through our healing and support team,” he said.
The royal commission is expected to make its final recommendations related to redress and civil litigation in the middle of this year.
Public submissions on the issue can be lodged before March 2, at firstname.lastname@example.org