Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (17:08:37) — My adjournment matter is for the Attorney-General. The action I am seeking relates to the mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse cases. I think it is quite apposite to the conversations we have been having this week about the redress scheme et cetera. Yesterday I received a letter from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. It appears that they are of the understanding that they do not need to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police; they only need to deal with it in-house. Then if they think that it is serious, they will report it. The letter from the archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne states:
Under the complaints legislation …
which is not legislation; it is their own synod rules —
complaints relating to clergy in the diocese, including former diocesan bishops, are dealt with by the Kooyoora office of professional standards under the process required by Melbourne diocesan legislation, the professional standards uniform act 2016 and its protocols.
It goes on to say that:
Kooyoora Ltd is an independent company established by the dioceses of Melbourne and Bendigo, that has its own board …
It then goes on to state:
The complaints protocol … adopted by the directors of Kooyoora Ltd requires the director of professional standards to notify the police in the case of serious indictable offences. This is a matter for the director to determine on the facts of each case, upon taking appropriate legal advice. This function is specifically reserved to the director …
I actually find it quite abhorrent that in 2018, having passed historic legislation in this place and having gone through a royal commission that looked into the appalling cover-ups that were undertaken by religious organisations, including the Anglican Church, they continue to feel that they do not need to report child sexual abuse when it comes before them. In fact their website states, ‘Don’t call the police, call us’.
The action that I am seeking is that Victoria’s mandatory reporting laws be extended to include religious institutions, particularly given that these are the institutions that had so much child abuse occur within them. Already we have doctors, teachers and police officers under the mandatory reporting laws. I would like to see that they be extended to religious institutions to give them the same legislative requirements imposed on others.