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Missed opportunity by Catholic Church to fund support for victims of child sexual abuse

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Missed opportunity

The request by some dioceses of the Catholic Church asking priests and employees receiving JobKeeper payments to pay up to 50% back to the Church has massively missed an opportunity. That opportunity is to show that the Church has truly changed by calling for donations to build a fund to support victims of child sexual abuse.

The Church purportedly stands to support the vulnerable and yet it, with many people missing out on JobKeeper and struggling to survive, has lobbied for remuneration for its own. And now it has asked its clergy and employees to donate back to itself, an organisation of enormous wealth and power.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse highlighted the Church as the institution with by far the worst record of child sexual abuse.

This record related not only to the number of established and alleged victims, but to the institutional risk minimisation processes which arguably were led from the top.

Countless victims were retraumatised in the process of seeking support and justice. The lack of accountability and failure to provide adequate redress to survivors was notable. The Melbourne Response and Towards Healing – both programs reportedly established to support victims – were experienced by many as being created to protect the Church and its deep coffers.

It is time for the Church to actually show that it has changed and to take this opportunity to financially support those harmed under its watch. Blue Knot Foundation is today calling on all Church dioceses to establish a meaningful fund which gives back to the Church’s victims.  Anything less is indefensible and morally reprehensible.

About Dr Cathy Kezelman AM

Dr Kezelman AM is a medical practitioner, mental health consumer advocate and President of Blue Knot Foundation National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma. She worked in medical practice for 20 years, mostly as a GP. Under her stewardship Blue Knot Foundation has grown from a peer support organisation to a national centre of excellence combining a prominent consumer voice with that of researchers, academics and clinicians advocating for socio-political trauma-informed change and informed responsiveness to complex trauma. Dr Kezelman was awarded an AM “for significant service to community health as a supporter and advocate for survivors of child abuse” in 2015.

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