Newcastle’s Anglican Diocese says it may have to sell church assets to make up a $1 million shortfall in the amount due to be paid to survivors of abuse this financial year.
Bishop Peter Stuart said despite the significant deficit, everyone entitled to compensation would receive it.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse has led to the diocese already making 27 payments totalling almost $5 million.
The royal commission’s probe into alleged abuse and cover-ups within the Newcastle Anglican diocese was damning.
The average payment made to survivors of abuse so far has been about $183,000.
“The synod and the diocese as a whole is experiencing some financial stress, so there are a number of reasons why we have a deficit,” he said.
“Part of the proposal that synod members will hear, is that we might need to dip into our reserves and to look at our assets to make sure we do the right thing.”
In March, a report by the royal commission found that between 1980 and 2015, there were more than 1,082 complaints of child sexual abuse at Anglican diocese around Australia.
In the wake of its hearings at the royal commission, the previous Bishop Greg Thompson — himself a survivor of abuse — resigned after enduring threats and abuse.
Church is ‘crying poor’
The diocese said it now thought its estimates for redress or compensation for 2017 and 2018 may be too low.
“We are looking carefully at the steps we need to take in order for us to fulfil our obligations to face our past,” Bishop Stuart said.
Leonie Sheedy, who heads the Care Leavers Australia Network, had no sympathy for the church.
“You know, this is the first church that is crying poor amount paying for redress,” she said.
“Well, my answer to that, to the Anglican Church of Newcastle, is you need to sell some assets.”