Royal Commission probes Anglican orphanage – updated*


The Northern Star reports…

“At least 129 Anglican Church clergy members are currently listed as “persons of concern” and up to 209 more are under investigation across the country, the royal commission into child sex abuse has heard.

The revelation came during inquiries into the workings of the Church’s national register – an internal “red flag” system, which gives professional standards directors and bishops the ability to background check clergy members transferring from diocese to diocese.

Those listed have either been convicted of or are under investigation for criminal behaviour and in particular, child sex offending.

Martin Drevikovsky, General Secretary, General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia told the commission this morning that the register was incomplete.

He said that when the royal commission was announced, every diocese was given directions to “search for (complaint) files and review them to ensure all necessary steps had been taken and if not, to take immediate action”.

As a result, Mr Drevikovksy said, “a large number of files have come to light”.

He said an estimated 209 files were listed for review and expected that between 40 and 45 and “possibly more” names would be added to the persons of concern register.

Earlier, Grafton/Newcastle Diocese Professional Standards Director Michael Elliott said at least four names of concern from northern NSW region had not been added to the register including that of Allan Kitchingman, a former Lismore priest who was jailed in 2003 over the sexual assault of a teenage boy.

Mr Elliott also confirmed that along with the North Coast Children’s Home files, there were between 10 and 15 files involving allegations against members of the Grafton Diocese which had yet to be reviewed.

The hearing continues.”



2 thoughts on “Royal Commission probes Anglican orphanage – updated*

  1. This is why I left the Anglican Church.

    It will always be my home.

    Opinion: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse shows men of God failed to act

    “That’s not the Pat Comben I knew,” said a former ministerial staffer and current political tragic over a beer last week.

    Nor was it the Pat Comben I knew as my former member of parliament, a former cabinet minister, a late-ordained Anglican minister, and neighbourhood acquaintance.

    This was a man against whom few had ill to say, whose table was invariably a gathering of good and interesting people, who frequently filled his ministerial limo with strangers on the way to the office and by all accounts was a more than competent minister.

    We were discussing allegations levelled by former workmate Tommy Campion, who accused Comben of duplicity and betrayal in what have been called “cruel and inappropriate” church responses to claims of abuse at the North Coast Children’s Home at Lismore.

    We were discussing Comben’s appearance before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse during which he made the bewildering claim that he had “no idea” why he did not report serious allegations of abuse to police.

    The commission was told that Comben had driven the hard line the diocese took in dealing with requests for compensation and apologies for people who suffered in the home.

    Comben, former registrar of the Grafton Diocese, said outside the hearing that if he had not taken the line he did and kept compensation low, he would have been sacked.

    It was an extraordinary week, leaving the inescapable conclusion that the Diocese of Grafton, under its former bishop Keith Slater, came to regard the financial well-being of the church as more important than justice, compensation and care for the victims of abuse.

    A preoccupation with diocesan debt became as cruel and uncaring as the historic abuses that preceded it.

    Far from the pain, I’m in no position to defend or condemn anyone, but knowing two of the protagonists in this squalid affair is a reminder that the evils of child abuse have far-reaching tentacles.

    The children who were brutalised in Lismore and other places are scarred for life. Forgiveness is theirs to give or to withhold.

    The same evil has reached out to touch and tarnish otherwise good people like Comben and Slater. One has given up his holy orders and the other has resigned as bishop, and Comben has even had his Christian faith tested.

    I wonder whether in his moments of introspection, Comben recalls an interview he gave in 2004 when he reconciled his political life with his Christian faith.

    He conceded that in politics he had to choose one group over another or make decisions that would have an impact on someone personally.

    “He regrets,” wrote reporter Brian Williams, “that there was no time to negotiate and communicate the way he knows he could have.

    “He regrets particularly that sometimes decisions were not taken with enough respect for the individual.”


    Two otherwise good men failed to do good things in response to unspeakable evil, and two good men took decisions without enough respect for the individual.

    It was left to the head of the Anglican faith in Australia, Bishop Phillip Aspinall, to confess his church had failed “dozens” of children who were abused.

    In the process, he succeeded in painting his church as a loosely connected, authority-free zone and a disciplinary shambles. It was equally open to conclude that it was constructed like an underground spy cell with cut-off points of accountability and responsibility.


  2. Didn’t know Pat Comben was in Grafton.

    That’s really sad for everyone.

    I knew Pat Comben when he was training for the ministry and he was still education minister. Now he doesn’t know if he’s a Christian.

    Pat’s attitude of minimising the effects of abuse and sweeping abuse under the carpet wasn’t uncommon either.


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