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Catholic levy to fight child abuse

Every employee and volunteer in the Archdiocese of Adelaide will be required to undergo training in child protection, under a plan announced yesterday by Vicar-General Monsignor David Cappo.

The Advertiser reports that the $320,000 a year scheme will be funded by a levy on schools and parishes. It involves more than 30,000 volunteers, in addition to hundreds of teachers and school services officers, administrative staff and clergy.

The initiative was prompted by the recent conviction of a bus driver for sexually abusing intellectually disabled children at an Adelaide Catholic school.

"We have been through some very serious experiences with child abuse in the church - now we've learnt from that," Monsignor David Cappo said yesterday. "We're responding to the victims of abuse. We don't want this to happen again."

Schools in the archdiocese will be levied $10 per student - which will raise $270,000 - and 75 parishes will put in $50,000.

An independent child protection council, with representation from police, government departments and child welfare experts, will oversee the initiative and advise Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson.

Monsignor Cappo said: "We'll get to a point where we'll say only people properly trained in child protection can be either an employee or a volunteer in the church."

He denied money raised through the levy would go towards compensation or future damages claims by parents of child victims of the bus driver. He also denied the levy would have an impact on students.

Federation of Parent and Friends Association of SA Catholic Schools president Bernard Meatheringham said: "As parents we are very supportive of this move.

Catholic levy to fight child abuse (The Advertiser)

Adelaide archbishop welcomes paedophile's "appropriate" jail sentence (15/9/03)
Church faces class action by parents for damages (5/8/03)
Archdiocese of Adelaide
Towards Healing

7 Nov 2003