The Tasmania Diocesan Synod has approved in principle the sale of up to 108 properties to fund redress for victims of abuse in Australia. The proposals were put forward by Bishop Richard Condie as a way of raising the $8 million AUD (approximately £4.6 million GBP) the diocese needs to pay towards the National Redress Scheme. Under the proposals adopted by the Synod, parishes and communities have until the Autumn make submissions about any properties on the list that should be excluded. The final decision will then be taken by the Diocesan Council in December.
The Synod endorsed a package of measures to fund the Redress Scheme, including diverting 25 per cent of Diocesan and Parish investment funds ($2.8 million); 25 per cent from the net proceeds of sale from 108 Anglican properties ($4.7 million); and direct contributions from parishes ($1.1 million).
Bishop Richard described the move as “a decisive step today to make a significant sacrifice for survivors of sexual abuse in our organisations”. He added: “Today is a great day for survivors of sexual abuse who have been damaged by the historic failures of the Anglican Church in Tasmania to care for children. Our Synod has taken an historic step in voting to adopt a course of action which will provide redress for survivors of sexual abuse. Our people have shown they are fully committed to providing restorative justice, recognition and support to survivors of sexual abuse.”
He added: “we have previously expressed our desire to opt in to the National Redress Scheme. We welcome the announcements that both the National Anglican Church of Australia and the Tasmanian State Government have decided to join the Scheme. These decisions provide us with the mechanism we needed to join.
“Synod’s decision makes sure that we can participate fully in the National Redress Scheme and is a sacrificial commitment to providing justice to survivors of sexual abuse. Lives have been destroyed by past failures of people in leadership within our church. Today we stand united to do our best for those people.
“With Jesus as our model of costly sacrifice, the Anglican Church in Tasmania has shown it is fully committed to redress, whatever the cost. Jesus Christ took on the punishment for the sins of the whole world, sins that he did not commit, so that he could provide restoration and forgiveness.
“It seems to me the costly sacrifice that our church people are prepared to make is exactly at the heart of our faith.”
The diocese has appointed a Probity Manager, Harvey Gibson, to independently review any submissions received about properties that should be excluded and to “ensure that the processes undertaken by the Diocesan Council are fair and open to scrutiny”, Bishop Richard said.