The Australian News Network, March 5 1998

Catholic abuse hotline set up
By John Briggs

THE Catholic Church in Tasmania will launch its hotline for complaints of possible sexual abuse by its clergy this weekend.

And the independent inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse within the Anglican Church, which resulted in 160 phone calls to its hotline, is being wound up with the report to be delivered to Bishop Phillip Newell as soon as next week.

The Catholic response to possible abuse has resulted in a hotline number and the launch of a pamphlet, titled Help is Available.

The document, which details the Archdiocese of Hobart's response, will be accessible through parishes, schools and other community contact points.

A professional standards resource group, established to ensure any complaints were investigated, was appointed by the Archbishop of Hobart, Dr Eric D'Arcy, and religious leaders.

The group has been working for several months in response to the document Towards Healing, which was developed and compiled by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes.

Group convener Coadjutor Archbishop Adrian Doyle said yesterday: "The betrayal of trust by those clergy and religious or other church personnel who have physically or sexually abused children or adults must be addressed by the church with openness, compassion and justice.

"The church needs to know about any physical or sexually abusive situations in order to respond to the needs of victims, take appropriate action against offenders and to care for the communities where abuse has occurred."

The freecall hotline number is 1800 356 613.

Meanwhile, Hobart barrister Tonia Kohl, who helped conduct the inquiry on behalf of the Anglican Church, had hoped to have the report finalised by now.

The inquiry, by Ms Kohl and clinical psychologist Dr Michael Crowley, started in November last year and was expected to take three months to complete.

"A spate of late calls has delayed it," Ms Kohl said.

Some of the 160 phone calls came in at the last minute and Ms Kohl said about 25 per cent of the callers had agreed to face-to-face interviews to talk out their problems and make accusations against clergy.

The inquiry was set up by the bishop after a report in The Mercury, in which a Hobart man alleged he was abused by three Anglican priests as a child.

Ms Kohl said she hoped to have the final report with Bishop Newell by the weekend or early next week.

The inquiry, fully funded by the Anglican Church, was completely independent of the church.

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