Royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse releases data showing 4,445 have come forward
Catholic church records show more than 3,000 child abuse claims have resulted in payments for redress and many are still being assessed. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP
Australian Associated Press
Wednesday 15 February 2017 20.31 EST
The Catholic Church in Australia has paid $276m in compensation to thousands of people sexually abused as children by priests and religious brothers.
The victims who have come forward to the church have received on average $91,000, according to data released by the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse on Thursday.
In total 4,445 people have made abuse claims to the church but that number still does not reveal the true extent of abuse in Catholic institutions in Australia as many victims never come forward.
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“The royal commission’s experience is that many survivors face barriers which deter them from reporting abuse to authorities and to the institution in which the abuse occurred,” senior counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness SC said.
“Accordingly, the total number of incidences of child sexual abuse in Catholic church institutions in Australia is likely to be greater than the claims made.”
The commission’s analysis of church records showed more than 3,000 child abuse claims resulted in payments for redress, of which 2,854 resulted in monetary compensation.
A significant number of claims are ongoing, the inquiry heard.
Furness said Catholic church authorities have paid $276.1m in total, a sum that includes compensation and amounts for treatment, legal and other costs.
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The Christian Brothers, which operated a number of residential facilities, have made the highest number of payments at 763, totalling $48.5m. The data covers claims made between 1980 and 2015.
They mainly relate to abuse between 1950 and 1989 but the earliest incident occurred in the 1920s and the latest after 2010.
Almost half the claims made to church authorities concerned schools.
The highest number of abuse claims – 219 – concerned a residential care facility run by the De La Salle Brothers in Beaudesert, Queensland.
Catholic church told of 4,444 abuse claims in 35 years, says royal commission