Bishop’s Pastoral Letter, 11/2015
The Rt Revd Greg Thompson, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.
19th November 2015
The Right Reverend Gregory Thomson
Bishop of Newcastle
MEDIA REPORTING OF CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AFFECTING THE DIOCESE
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In June, I called on the Diocese to “Face the past”. In what at times has been a difficult journey around the open discussion of child sexual abuse, we have seen people come forward to speak of their experience. We have seen parishes listen with deep care and attention to news of abuse and hurt in their past. As a Diocesan family we have heard directly from survivors, been moved to lament and expressed our deepest remorse. I have said on a number of occasions that we must be ready to hear more news that is distressing.
Earlier this week I accepted an ABC request for an interview, along with some others, for a story, they plan to run today. The ABC propose that several paedophile networks operated in Newcastle and suggest that politicians, teachers, lawyers and doctors were involved in child sexual abuse or covering up abuse.
The broader community is deeply interested in my concerns about cultures allowing abuse to flourish, including the culture within the church. My own experience of the Diocese, in the past and the present, is that there are people who do not want the culture to change. They seek either to groom people or bully people into silence.
What is becoming clear is that people, well known to each other, were involved in offending and in keeping their activities secret. I know that the Police and Royal Commission are examining this awful conduct. As a Diocese, we are committed to complete cooperation with these investigations and I know that in leading change, the Synod, representing the breadth of the Diocese, stands with me.
Once again, I encourage victims and survivors of abuse to join with me in telling their story to the NSW Police and the Royal Commission. I urge people who had or have suspicions about abusive behaviour to speak up. I encourage perpetrators to come forward to begin the long journey of putting things right.
In Ecclesiastes chapter 3 we read “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. This is rightly a time of deep scrutiny of the life of the Diocese and the community. It is a time when that which has been in darkness comes into the light. In this season, we must always keep at the centre of our thinking and prayers those who were harmed, seeking justice and healing for each.
With every blessing,
Bishop Gregory Thompson
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For help or advice, contact:
Lifeline 131 114,
NSW Police Crimestoppers 1800 333 000,
Royal Commission 1800 099 340,
Diocesan Professional Standards 1800 774 945.
The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle takes allegations of misconduct and abuse seriously. Professional Standards Protocols provide formal procedures for handling complaints of misconduct.
We welcome and encourage people with concerns to come forward by speaking with a contact person.
Contact persons are trained to listen, will maintain confidentiality, can help you to understand the processes involved and if required, can assist in documenting the complaint.
Discussing child sexual abuse can be difficult. The Royal Commission has reminded us that is especially so for survivors telling their story for the first time, their families and professional staff supporting them.
The Royal Commission provides an extensive list of care and support services which can be found at Support Services. These services connect people with counsellors or special support groups.
Services marked as ‘Government Funded’ have been funded by the Australian Government to assist people affected by child abuse.