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Published: 20 February 2017
Author: Amy Olver with research assistance from Alyssa Lewis

Child abuse in Catholic Church: here are the (awful) statistics

Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse hearings

One of the many useful functions performed by the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse has been the release of data which reveals the scale of the problem within the Catholic Church, among others.

Here is a snapshot of some of the statistics which the Commission has just revealed:

  • From January 1980 until February 2015, Church authorities paid out more than $276 million in response to claims of child sexual abuse. This amount includes treatment expenses, legal costs, and direct monetary compensation.
  • Nearly $259 million was awarded as monetary compensation. 
  • The average amount of compensation per claimant was $91,000.
  • The Christian Brothers, who operated a number of residential facilities, have so far awarded the highest number of payments, that being $48.5 million to more than 760 claims of child sexual abuse.
  • Survivors have on average waited 33 years from when the abuse was committed to reporting it.
  • There has been a reported 4445 complaints of child sexual abuse from the period of 1980 until 2015 against the Church. The earliest complaints were recorded in 1920. The statistics cover complaints made up until 2010. 
  • 1049 separate catholic institutions have had cases of abuse reported against them. Of these, a staggering 46%, or nearly half, were schools. A further 29% were orphanages and residential homes. 
  • The Commission noted that 3066 claims of child sexual abuse against Catholic Church authorities have resulted in payments being made, of which 2854 claims have resulted in monetary compensation. (A “payment being made” is a payment to a survivor that includes monetary compensation and payment for treatment, legal and other costs. As “monetary compensation” is a payment in compensation only. These payments are a tangible means of recognising a sense of moral responsibility and recognising the wrong survivors have suffered.) 

According to the Commission, the total number of claims of abuse to be made against the Catholic Church in Australia is likely to exceed the number of claims made to-date.

In the course of acting for more than 2000 survivors of child institutional abuse, our firm has heard from survivors about the many barriers they faced in even reporting their allegations of abuse to authorities.

Ryan Carlisle Thomas has been successful in helping survivors of abuse securing compensation for child institutional abuse both within the Catholic Church and other organisations.

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