Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson giving evidence at royal commission hearing

NEWCASTLE Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson has told the royal commission he needs a ‘long break’ from the church, a day after announcing his resignation following shocking evidence about child sexual abuse in the diocese.

Bishop Thompson said he will remain on sick leave until May 31 when his resignation takes effect.

On the opening day of a final public hearing into the church, counsel assisting Gail Furness said the church in Australia had paid $31 million to 459 survivors of child sexual abuse. The figure is more than $240 million less than the Catholic Church has paid to abuse survivors, and raises questions about why only 40 per cent of Anglican complainants have received compensation.

There were allegations of child sexual abuse against 569 church representatives. Children were on average 11 years old.

The commission was told 247 alleged perpetrators were ordained clergy, 285 were lay people and 37 known alleged perpetrators had an unknown religious status. Of all alleged perpetrators, 94 per cent were male and 6 per cent were female. 

About 9 per cent of complaints to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse related to Anglican institutions, counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness said in Sydney, at the opening of the 52nd commission public hearing.

The royal commission was told there were 1115 reported complaints of child sexual abuse made to 22 Anglican dioceses between January 1980 and December 2015.

The diocese of Brisbane received the highest number of complaints, with 371 complaints, or 33 per cent of the total number of complaints. Ms Furness said the diocese, unlike others, required all complaints to be reported to it, including complaints from schools.

The diocese of Adelaide received 155 complaints, with a significant number from the Church of England Boys’ Society, the Diocese of Melbourne received 96 complaints, the diocese of Sydney received 89 complaints and the diocese of Newcastle received 63 complaints.

The largest percentage of complaints related to abuse in the 1970s, which is consistent with the highest percentage of complaints in the Catholic Church.

Three in four complainants were male, and 25 per cent were female.

In her opening address Ms Furness said the commission had made 84 referrals to police, resulting in four prosecutions, 23 investigations, and other matters pending.