Managing ‘civil claims’ (claims for damages brought by survivors of historic child sexual abuse committed within the Diocese) is a distinct and particular function that the Diocese undertakes as part of its efforts to address its legacy. It is separate from the services provided through the Healing and Support Team. To be eligible for Healing and Support services, your word is sufficient. To obtain a settlement for alleged damages against the Diocese there must be a proper assessment of the claim, which requires an agreed process.
The Diocese is a signatory to the Towards Healing protocol and support people who choose to seek restitution through the NSW Professional Standards Office. However, most of the people who have been affected by historic child sexual abuse now choose to pursue claims for damages directly with the Diocese. You can learn about Towards Healing and make contact with the NSW Professional Standards Office.
People may also choose to make claims through the National Redress Scheme, which is an independent process run by the Australian Federal Department of Human Services. You can access the National redress Scheme through the website.
If you are a survivor and wish to make a civil claim against the Diocese, you must be legally represented, to ensure that your best interests are protected.
The Head of Zimmerman Services ‘manages’ claims brought against the Diocese. The intent of the Diocese is to provide equitable financial compensation for harm caused.
The Diocese needs to achieve a degree of certainty as to the factual basis of the allegations, ‘due diligence’ investigations may be conducted by the Head of Zimmerman Services or allocated to PaRT personnel to report directly to the Head of Zimmerman Services. The Diocese’s protocol for settling claims is designed to balance the Diocese’s duty to properly test a claim while minimising litigiousness and reduce the risk of further harm being caused to the claimant.
Advice for a person wanting to make a claim against the Diocese for damages
Voluntary protocol for settlement of civil claims brought outside Towards Healing (Lawyer's protocol)
In recognition of past settlements that were made with claimants having been financially inadequate, the Diocese has developed a voluntary protocol to assist those who wish to revisit their settlements.
Advice for a person who made a settlement with the Diocese or Toward Healing many years ago and believe they did not receive adequate compensation
Voluntary protocol for producing a revised settlement for a previously settled claim (Lawyer's protocol)
For the purposes of settling a civil claim, any communications between the claimant and the Healing and Support Team is considered privileged. Also, provision of normative service through the Healing and Support Team are not considered as part of any agreed settlement; e.g. the cost of funding counselling services for a claimant who is also a client of Healing and Support are not considered in reaching an agreed quantum.
Claimants are able to seek non-financial elements of a settlement, e.g. letters of apology to themselves and other family members, meetings with the Bishop or other diocesan leaders, particular pieces of property which may have particular symbolic significance or detailed briefings on the actions undertaken by the Diocese in protecting children today.
The Head of Zimmerman Services instructs the Diocese’s legal counsel on behalf of the Diocese.
The Standing Committee for Assisting in Resolving Claims provides independent advice to the Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle prior to the Bishop giving instructions to the Head of Zimmerman Services as to resolving the claim, or not.
Zimmerman Services (the Diocesan child protection service)
50 Crebert Street, Mayfield
PO Box 29 Carrington NSW 2294
Ph. (02) 4979 1390