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Abuse victims want action from Archbishop

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Victims of pedophile priests want immediate action on compensation payouts from the Melbourne archdiocese.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart will give evidence to the child abuse royal commission on Monday and victims say he has the power to help them right now.

Anthony Foster, whose two daughters were raped by notorious abuser Father Kevin O’Donnell, said it was Archbishop Hart’s time to “actually do something”.

“Denis Hart could make the changes on Monday afternoon that are needed to give a lot of relief to a lot of victims right now,” Mr Foster said.

Mr Foster said the church needed to create a legal entity that could be sued, as recommended by a recent Victorian parliamentary inquiry.

He also called for an independent review of all payments made under the church’s Melbourne Response, set up in 1996 to handle allegations of clergy sex abuse in the Melbourne archdiocese.

“I want to hear him say there should never have been a cap on the Melbourne Response (payouts),” Mr Foster said.

Archbishop Hart has previously promised to consult with victims about reviewing the compensation paid under the Melbourne Response.

Last April he said he would present the results of his consultation to the royal commission.

More than 300 victims have been paid an average of $33,000 under the Melbourne Response. Payments were initially capped at $50,000 and later raised to $75,000.

Victims who have sued the church outside the Melbourne Response have won an average of $293,000.

Mr Foster said the royal commission had heard a lot of church leaders refuse to take responsibility for events that happened before their time.

“Come Monday we see Archbishop Hart, we see the person who is responsible for this archdiocese of Melbourne right here, right now,” Mr Foster said.