That this General Synod:
Notes that a report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children – the Forgotten Australians report – has been prepared by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee and was tabled in Federal Parliament on 30 August 2004.
Notes that the report calls on governments, churches and agencies to issue formal statements acknowledging their roles in past institutional care policies and practices and the impact these have had on the lives of many care leavers.
Acknowledges that many children who were placed in institutional care during the last century experienced neglect, harm and distress; and in particular cases, experienced serious physical and sexual abuse and assault – the effects of which are life-long.
Extends the following apology to these children:
The Anglican Church of Australia sincerely apologises to the children whose experiences in institutional and out-of-home care provided by the Anglican Church caused them hurt, distress, and harm. The recent Senate Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care Report has reflected the stories of many care leavers who demonstrated great courage in describing their experiences in institutional care. A number of these people had been placed in institutions conducted by the Anglican Church and its agencies. With deep sadness and regret, this Church acknowledges that many of these children suffered abuse and neglect, and a lack of appropriate care and nurture while in institutional care; and a significant number also suffered physical and sexual assault. The Church deeply regrets that its institutions and personnel did not always provide environments in which these children were protected and nurtured. The Anglican Church is committed to ensuring that all children in any of its institutions and all those who come into contact with the Church will be protected. Actions are being taken in this General Synod and in the dioceses to put into place new strategies reflecting this commitment. The Inquiry Report – Forgotten Australians – has brought into community awareness the serious and long-term effects of such abuse and assault; and the Anglican Church is committed to providing appropriate services, assistance and support to those persons who suffered harm.
5. Requests each diocese involved in the provision of institutional care to children to extend an apology in similar terms.
6. Acknowledges that the Church is called to assist and support in whatever way it can those persons who have been harmed by and in its institutions; and requests each diocese to consider appropriate strategies – which recognise the personal significance of the harm done to individual persons and their likely distrust of the Church – to encourage those who have been harmed to come forward.
7. Commends the report to the dioceses, institutions and agencies of this Church and requests them prayerfully and objectively to consider the report and its implications for current policies and practices which affect all children and young people in contact with the Church to ensure that the past abuse and assault will never again occur.
Phillip Aspinall – 5 Oct 04