Anglican Church 'deeply ashamed' about 1,000 complaints of child sex abuse, royal commission hears
Every Anglican Church diocese in the country bar one has received complaints of child sexual abuse in the past 35 years, a report has found.
The Anglican Church says it is ashamed that between 1980 and 2015 there were 1,082 complaints of child sexual abuse, with 22 of the 23 dioceses reporting at least one complaint.
The Diocese of Brisbane (371) received the most complaints followed by the Diocese of Adelaide (155).
The figures were revealed in the first day of the final hearing into the Anglican Church by the royal commission into child sexual abuse.
It was also reported that only 25 per cent of complainants had received an apology from the church and the average compensation payment was $67,000.
The average age of victims was 11 years old, 75 per cent were men and the average time taken to report the abuse was 29 years.
Counsel Assisting the inquiry Gail Furness said the number did not include all complaints of abuse associated with the church's institutions.
"Many survivors face barriers which deter them from reporting abuse externally or to the institution in which the abuse occurred," she said.
The royal commission has today heard that tribalism in the Anglican Church is working against better child protection standards.
General Secretary of the General Synod Anne Hywood acknowledged that the church's complex federal structure was a barrier to a nationally consistent approach.
"We accept the challenge and we are committed to taking action," she told the inquiry.
"We are appalled at the stark presentation of the number of abusers and those they harmed," she said.
Honesty needed, not 'veneer of nice Anglicanism'
The Bishop of Newcastle Greg Thompson, who yesterday resigned because his health was impacted after dealing with abuse issues, said he was very disappointed a common response had not been reached.
"I think it's been undermined by tribal interests, vested interests in keeping the jurisdictions of not allowing someone else coming into our territory to tell us what to do.
PHOTO: Dr Philip Freier said the church was eagerly awaiting the royal commission's recommendations.
"I think there needs to be an honesty about rather than this veneer of nice Anglicanism We ought to be nice to each other, but in reality we're in competition with each other."
An emotional Bishop Thompson last year told the royal commission his efforts to expose a decades-old culture of abuse and cover-ups had led to an obvious push to get rid of him.
The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, said he was shocked with his church's "failure to tackle child sexual abuse".
"We're not trying to make any excuses for failures past or present," he said.
"There's a profound appetite for change inside the Anglican church.
"We are deeply ashamed of the many ways in which we have let down survivors, both in the way we have acted and the way we have failed to act."
Church struggles with uniformity: Brisbane Archbishop
Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall said he would like the church to adopt minimum national child protection standards.
He said it would help if the royal commission recommended making a nationally consistent approach mandatory.
PHOTO: Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall wants the commission to recommend a consistent approach to child protection. (AAP: Rob Blakers)
Ms Furness asked him: "Is it the sort of reform that you need a recommendation from the royal commission in order to achieve it?"
He replied that he believed it would help.
"What does it say about the church," Ms Furness asked, "... that it needs such a thing to undertake such reform which you would accept, I'm sure, is necessary?"
Archbishop Aspinall replied that the church had historically "really struggled to deliver uniformity".
The final hearing for the Anglican Church leadership is expected to take four days.