6 Dec 2010

Australian Anglican Archbishop tried to skirt law to obtain funds from church charity for sex abuse compensation

Adelaide Now - The Advertiser Australia May 29, 2010

Adelaide's Anglican Church under scrutiny over payments to worker's victims

by SARAH MARTIN | The Advertiser


THE Anglican Church sought funds from its social welfare charity Anglicare to assist with payments to victims of sexual abuse, documents show.

Police are understood to be assessing the use of funds by the charity after a referral from the Health Department. Anglicare operates independently and receives most of its funding up to $50 million annually from state and federal government grants.

Documents obtained by The Advertiser suggest Anglican Archbishop Jeffrey Driver repeatedly sought access to Anglicare funds for the diocese but legal advice highlighted problems in funds being transferred.

The church's need for funds was in response to compensation payments made to victims of paedophile church worker Robert Brandenburg in 2006. Anglicare denies any funds were paid for that purpose or that any monies used in providing care were made available to the diocese.

At the time of the compensation claims, funds and assets controlled by the charity were declared "untouchable" by the church. In Anglicare Council documents obtained by The Advertiser, former deputy chairman Ian Chesterman states that the church's request "attempts to move past the separate legal status of Anglicare" to enable support from the charity for the diocese.

Mr Chesterman says that former chair Keith Smith had "given firm indications to the Archbishop that Anglicare would 'find a way' to make substantial payments to the diocese".

But he notes that the initial request for assistance could not be acted upon given "the legal advising we hold which clearly states that the terms of our constitution preclude the payment of an ex gratia payment to the diocese".

The documents obtained by The Advertiser show the Archbishop acknowledged the legal advice and then pushed for alternative ways to obtain financial support from Anglicare.

A letter from Mr Smith to the Anglicare council executive notes that, because of the constitutional difficulties, an "acceptable legal pathway" to assist the diocese would need to be found.

"The Archbishop is aware that Anglicare Council is disposed to make a substantial contribution towards settlement of Brandenburg claims," the letter states.

"However the quantum has not been finalised nor has the method of delivery been determined.

"Any contribution by Anglicare must remain confidential, primarily to avoid lawyers on our side becoming more generous."

It is understood that a number of Anglicare representatives raised personal reservations about any Anglicare funds being made available to assist with church compensation payouts.

Mr Smith expresses concern about the arrangements, saying the process could be repeated if other sexual abuse claims emerged.


This article was found at:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/adelaides-anglican-church-under-scrutiny-over-payments-to-workers-victims/story-e6frea83-1225872772338


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