In AURORA: Bishop Bill on Independent Review Panel

Read a report by Bishop Bill on the establishment of an Independent Review Panel.

In AURORA: Bishop Bill on Independent Review Panel

As I indicated in my recent article in Aurora and at public meetings, I have established an Independent Review Panel which will conduct a procedurally fair process for determining just and reasonable outcomes relating to the future ministry of Father Burston and Monsignor Hart.


For some of the panel members it is appropriate to identify who they are, for others it isn’t.  Nevertheless I hope I am able to give you a brief descriptor of the qualifications that each panel member brings to this process:

  • Patricia Crennan was a senior educator in Catholic schools with qualifications in education, literature and the law, who assisted in establishing Parramatta CSO’s child protection regime.
  • Very Rev Chris de Souza is one of the current Vicars General of Parramatta Diocese with a background in Vocations, Formation and Diocesan Administration.
  • The Chair of the Panel is the Hon. Kenneth Handley AO, QC, a retired NSW Court of Appeals judge, a highly respected international jurist and prominent in the Sydney Anglican Church. 
  • Emeritus Professor Terry Lovat of the University of Newcastle has qualifications in Theology, Ethics, Education, Philosophy and Social Anthropology and was a former Chair of the University’s Ethics Committee.

Of the three ‘confidential’ members, one is a serving Police Officer, one a practising solicitor and the third a retired teacher.


Three of the members are women. Two are actively engaged in the diocese, in a range of volunteer roles at both parish and diocesan levels. One member chooses to attend Mass occasionally. No members are parishioners of Fr Burston or Mons Hart. One of the members is an adult survivor of child sexual abuse committed by a Catholic priest. Neither McAlinden nor Fletcher was the abuser.


The Panel has held its inaugural meeting and it is everyone’s fervent hope that I will be in receipt of the Panel’s advice by October. As soon as the advice is duly considered by those most immediately affected, it will be published on the diocese’s website.


One of the first pieces of business addressed by the Panel was determining the arrangements for people to make written submissions. If you wish to have your views considered, you will need to prepare a typed submission, no longer than 1000 words and have it lodged by 19 August 2014. You can email your submission to with the subject line ‘ATT Chair, Independent Advisory Panel Submission’, or you can post your submission to The Chair, Independent Advisory Panel, c/- 50 Crebert St Mayfield 2303.


Submissions will be treated in the strictest confidence and the Panel’s advice will not identify, or help to identify, any individual who lodges a submission. Before you write, please remember the Panel is only considering the issues that arise from Commissioner Cunneen’s report; this is not an invitation to debate other matters.  Because of tight deadlines, any submissions received in handwriting, or longer than 1000 words, will not be able to be considered by the Panel.


For an update on this independent panel, please see this diocesan statement which was published on 24 September.


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