'Do nothing' approach in Newcastle diocese

A lack of leadership within the Newcastle Anglican Diocese allowed child abusers to continue to commit crimes, the royal commission on child sexual abuse has found.

The commission's lengthy report into the diocese, released on Thursday, found a lack of leadership from Newcastle bishops Alfred Holland and Roger Herft allowed alleged perpetrators not to be called to account.

"There is still an attitude in some segments of the diocese that survivors should just 'move on'," the report said.

"Until that attitude evolves, very little may change in this institution."

The report says a major shift in understanding and awareness must occur to improve the diocese's response to child sexual abuse.

By 1980, six victims had reported allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Father Peter Rushton to Bishop Holland.

Despite this, Bishop Holland promoted Rushton to the position of Archdeacon of Maitland in 1983, the report said.

Allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Father James Michael Brown were also reported to Bishop Holland in 1979.

Brown was later convicted of sexually abusing 20 children.

Bishop Holland's failure to act represented a lost opportunity to prevent further abuse being perpetrated by Rushton and Brown, the report said.

Bishop Herft was bishop of Newcastle from May 1993 to February 2005, and at the time of the public hearing in 2016, was Archbishop of Perth.

Bishop Herft's inaction regarding allegations against Rushton contributed to the diocese's systematic failure to make perpetrators accountable for their conduct and left children at risk, the commission found.

The report follows public hearings in Newcastle and Sydney that heard from those involved in the diocese and survivors of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Anglican Diocese of Newcastle clergy and laypeople.

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