University experts behind Anglican Church's child protection report
17 June 2009
Two University of Sydney experts are the authors of a landmark Anglican Church report to help the organisation strengthen its child protection protocols.
The study, released by the church today, was prepared by leading child sexual abuse experts, Emeritus Professor Kim Oates AM of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Sydney and Professor Patrick Parkinson AM of the University of Sydney Law School, both experts in the field of child sexual abuse.
It examines 191 alleged cases of child sexual abuse reported between 1990 and 2008 from 17 dioceses around Australia. Anglican Primate, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, said the research project was the first of its kind in Australia, with a project by the Roman Catholic Church in the USA being the only similar undertaking anywhere in the world.
Archbishop Aspinall said: "While this report is aimed at strengthening our child protection protocols as we look to the future, it also reminds us of the tragic events of the past and of the pain which still exists. We reiterate our apology, our sorrow and our deep regret for abuse which has occurred.
"The Australian Church has been developing processes which include screening of those working with children and young people, a code of conduct and safe ministry training."
Archbishop Aspinall said the report highlighted key issues. "The review of past cases showed that most victims of abuse were males between the ages of 10 and 15 years.
"Another factor emerging through this research is that there tends to be a long time lag, averaging 23 years, between the abuse of young people and the reporting of that abuse. Again, this is something we must take into account as we encourage people to feel they can come forward to deal with something deeply painful from their past, and as we try to support them as they do so."
Professor Parkinson, whose book Child Sexual Abuse and the Churches was first published in 1997, said that the report was important reading for leaders in all churches. "It provides many insights into the way in which child sexual abuse has occurred in the past in the context of parish church life, and offers strategies for preventing child sexual abuse in the future," he said.
Professor Parkinson thanked the Anglican Church for commissioning the research study and for providing access to its internal records. "It is hard for any organisation to look into the dark places of its history," he said.
"The Church, working with the research team at the University of Sydney, is being proactive in seeking to learn from the past and to improve its processes for the future."
Contact: Kath Kenny
Phone: 02 9351 2261 or 0434 606 100