THE NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into child sexual abuse allegations in the Hunter will open an information centre at Wallsend from next Monday.
Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC said the centre was to help make it as easy as possible for people to speak to the commission, which is investigating church and police handling of allegations against Catholic paedophile priests Denis McAlinden and Jim Fletcher.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell ordered the inquiry after allegations raised by Hunter Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox last year, including that police had ordered him to stop investigating McAlinden.
The inquiry is also investigating church knowledge of McAlinden’s offending from 1949 to 1995, and the church’s response to allegations involving Fletcher.
“I strongly encourage those people with information relevant to the inquiry’s terms of reference to come forward and be heard,” Ms Cunneen said. “The inquiry team understands that this may be incredibly hard to do and wishes to help people by making the process as easy as possible – for people to talk to my team in confidence or just gain further information about their options for participating in the inquiry.”
The inquiry information centre is at the Justice Access Centre, Floor 1, Suite 2, 84 Nelson Street, Wallsend.
It will be open on March 4 and 5 from 10am-4pm; on April 3, 4 and 5 from 10am-4pm, and Sunday, May 5 from 10am-4pm.