Holding the churches to account: Reportable Conduct Scheme to include religious institutions, instructors

Caroline Le Couteur, MLA

The ACT Greens today welcomed the Government’s inclusion of religious institutions and instructors in the Reportable Conduct Scheme, onwards from the ACT Greens’ calls in March 2017.

In March 2017, the Greens called on the Government to introduce safeguards to ensure that religious institutions and religious instructors would be included in the Reportable Conduct Scheme.

The scheme oversees how organisations prevent and respond to allegations of child abuse and misconduct.

“The Reportable Conduct Scheme is in place to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community from the scourge of abuse,” Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said.

“Child sexual abuse is a truly harrowing crime – with devastating consequences for survivors and their families. Abuse does not stem from religion – child abuse is ultimately an abuse of trust, and power.

“As part of the Royal Commission’s investigations, of some 7,000 survivors who described the types of institution where they were abused, more than half (58.6 per cent) said they were sexually abused in an institution managed by a religious organisation.

“We must do all we can to ensure that the most stringent safeguards are in place to protect those most vulnerable in our community. We welcome the Government’s efforts to put these protections in place, onwards from recent community consultation in relation to this important issue.”

In March 2017, the Greens had called on the Government to expand the definition of "designated entities" in the legislation to specifically include religious institutions.

In December 2017 the Royal Commission presented its final report into its five year inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and related matters.

People in religious ministry and teachers were the perpetrators most commonly referenced in the Inquiry.