Case Studies involving the Catholic Church

Through the Royal Commission public hearing and case study process, the Commission is exploring how different institutions responded when cases of abuse were reported to them and what they have learnt.

This often involves trying to get an understanding of the systemic or cultural issues that played a part in the abuse and considering the institutional changes that have taken place since the abuse.

The public hearings involving the Catholic Church have for the most part lasted for around two weeks. Most have followed a similar pattern.

Survivors or survivor representatives are called first. They are given the opportunity to read their witness statement and then answer questions from Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission and barristers representing other parties about the abuse they suffered and the way the Church responded when the abuse was reported.

This is a time for survivors to be heard, with some telling their stories for the first time.

They may be questioned by legal representatives for the Council and Church organisations, but in most cases are not.

Following evidence from survivors, representatives from the Church organisations involved appear.

The examination of Church witnesses may explore issues including whether Church leaders had knowledge of the abuse and what response the Church organisation made to complaints about the abuse. Witnesses are generally taken through documents the Royal Commission has obtained under its powers to compel production.

The case study usually finishes with the Church organisation, typically represented by the current bishop or congregational leader, giving evidence.

Case Study 4: Towards Healing, December 2013, Sydney
The hearing examined the establishment, operation and review of the Towards Healing process by the Catholic Church.

Case Study 6: Toowoomba, February 2014, Brisbane
The hearing examined the response by the Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Toowoomba, to allegations of child sexual abuse.

Case Study 8: John Ellis, March 2014, Sydney
The hearing examined the abuse of and the response of the Archdiocese of Sydney to the complaint made by John Ellis under Towards Healing.

Case Study 9: St Ann's Special School, March 2014, Adelaide
The hearing examined the responses by the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide, and the South Australian Police, to allegations of child sexual abuse at St Ann’s Special School.

Case Study 11: Christian Brothers, April 2014, Perth
The hearing examined the experiences of men who were resident at Christian Brothers' residences in Western Australia.

Case Study 13: Marist Brothers, June 2014, Canberra
The hearing examined the response of the Marist Brothers to allegations of child sexual abuse in schools in the ACT, NSW and Queensland.

Case Study 14: June 2014, Sydney
The hearing examined the response of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong to allegations of child sexual abuse against John Gerard Nestor.

Case Study 16: Melbourne Response, August 2014, Melbourne
The hearing examined the principles, practices and procedures of the Melbourne Response.

Case Study 24: Out of Home Care, March 2015, Sydney
The hearing examined preventing and responding to child sexual abuse in out-of-home care.

Case Study 25: Redress and civil litigation, March 2015, Sydney
The hearing examined written submissions to the Royal Commission's consultation paper on redress and civil litigation.

Case Study 26: St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol, Rockhampton April 2015
The hearing inquired into the experiences of men and women who were resident at St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol between 1940 and 1975.

Case Study 28: Ballarat, May 2015, Melbourne December 2015 and Ballarat February 2016
This case study will to hear from residents, students and others of their experiences of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and Brothers in schools and parishes in Ballarat and of its impact on the community of Ballarat. It will be heard in three parts in Ballarat and Melbourne.

Case Study 31: Geoffrey Robinson, August 2015
The hearing will hear evidence from retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson on the development of Towards Healing, the Vatican, the operation Of Encompass Australasia  and other issues.

Case Study 35: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, November 2015, Melbourne
The hearing will inquire into the response of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne to allegations of child sexual abuse.

Case Study 41: Disability service providers, July 2016, Sydney
This case study will inquire into responses of disability service providers to allegations of child sexual abuse.

Case Study 43: Newcastle-Maitland, September 2016, Sydney

This case study inquired into the response of Catholic Church authorities in the Maitland-Newcastle region to allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy and religious from 31 August 2016 in Newcastle.

Case Study 44: Father Farrell Armidale Parramatta Dioceses, September 2016, Sydney

This case study inquired into response of the Armidale and Parramamtta Diocese to allegations of child sexual abuse by John Joseph Farrell and the response of the Special Issues Group for the Province of Sydney to the allegations.

Case Study 45: Harmful sexual behaviours in schools, October 2016

This case stduy inquired into the institutional responses to children with problematic or harmful sexual behaviours in seven schools (three NSW public primary schools and four independent secondary schools), two government agencies and the Association of Independent Schools NSW.

Case Study 46: Criminal Justice, November 2016, Sydney

This case study inquired into issues raised in the Royal Commission’s Consultation Paper on Criminal Justice.

Case Study 50: Catholic Church Authorities in Australia, February 2017 Sydney

This case study will inquire into Catholic Church Authorities in Australia in relation to child-protection and child-safety standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse.

 

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