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Survivors of abuse in faith-based institutions call for recommendations to be passed onto Govt immediately

Survivors of abuse in faith-based institutions are calling for recommendations to be passed on to the Government immediately.

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The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry's heard two weeks of evidence on the processes for resolving abuse claims. Source: 1 NEWS

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry has heard two weeks of evidence on the processes for resolving abuse claims from the Salvation Army, the Anglican and the Catholic Church.

It follows earlier evidence from survivors themselves.

Advocates want to see an independent body established, to investigate and oversee the redress for abuse claims.

“Commissioners, you have been mandated by survivors and the churches to recommend this independent body. Survivors ask that you act now on the completion of these public redress hearings,” Network for Survivors of abuse in faith based institutions spokesperson Liz Tonks said.

“The cost of not doing so is unacceptable.”

The two-week hearing has seen church leaders issue apologies to those who have been abused in their care.

In its closing statements, the Catholic Church counsel’s Sally McKechnie said the church is “very aware it has no right to the forgiveness of survivors and it has no right to expect its contribution will be accepted”.

The Salvation Army counsel’s Jenny Stevens said in the Army’s closing statements today that it “doesn't intend to stand still and wait for the formal recommendations that may come from this Commission”.

“It accepts that there are changes it can make that now actually seem obvious and are clearly necessary,” Stevens said.

“The Army accepts that a more fundamental review is overdue and it has - it is committed to now putting in place further adjustments to its redress process.”

The Salvation Army counsel's Fiona Guy-Kidd said in closing statements that the Anglican Church "will mandate a body within the Church to create consistent safeguarding policies applicable throughout the core church".

She said the church "will also require regular external reviews of the policies and their effectiveness".

Survivors say the apologies issued mean nothing without action, however.

Human rights lawyer Sonja Cooper, whose firm represents more than 1400 claimants, said it was "heartening" to hear of the Anglican Church's approach to "accept [survivors'] narrative of the events” and the Salvation Army's move to look "more towards accepting a survivor’s version of events”. 

She said the Catholic Church appeared to be a long way off from accepting survivors' narratives, however, saying there "is still a burden on survivors to prove not only that they were abused, but who did it”.