ROYAL COMMISSION CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE SYDNEY
The Catholic Church's move to join the national redress scheme paves the way for $1 billion in compensation to flow to people sexually abused as children by Catholic figures and puts pressure on other institutions to follow suit.
Australia's Catholic bishops and leaders of its religious orders have committed to signing on to the $3.8 billion national scheme.
The step is significant given the Catholic Church will be the first non-government institution to opt in to the scheme and because it has estimated it will itself be liable for about $1 billion in compensation.
Federal Social Services Minister Dan Tehan expects more institutions to follow, saying there could be further announcements as early as Thursday.
Catholic leaders have long backed a national redress scheme but the churches, charities and other non-government institutions needed the states and territories to sign on before they could opt in.
Western Australia is the final state to join, although state Attorney-General John Quigley said the negotiations with the federal government could be finalised within six to eight weeks.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia on Wednesday confirmed the church will enter the scheme when it became law.
"We support the royal commission's recommendation for a national redress scheme, administered by the Commonwealth, and we are keen to participate in it," ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.
"Survivors deserve justice and healing and many have bravely come forward to tell their stories."
Legislation to enable the opt-in scheme passed federal parliament's lower house on Tuesday night.
Mr Tehan said the scheme was on track to begin on July 1 if it passed the Senate.
"The Catholic Church obviously had institutions, churches under its control where terrible, terrible, shocking abuse took place," he told reporters.
"Today shows remorse, it shows that they are prepared to take responsibility."
Mr Tehan said the Catholic Church was bringing all its orders and dioceses under one company to make it easier to make payouts.
"We're talking tens of millions of dollars," he said.
Because of the structure of the Catholic Church, each church entity has to opt in.
Archbishop Coleridge said an agency would be established to allow dioceses and religious congregations to interact with the independent national redress scheme operator.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher said the church expected to be paying out survivors for "many years to come".
"We're going to back that with our insurance and our assets," he told the ABC.
"We're determined to bring justice and full redress - healing, if we can - to the victims of this terrible crime."
CRA president Sister Ruth Durick said redress would not eliminate a survivor's pain but hoped it could offer practical assistance in the journey towards recovery from abuse.
The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne this week resolved to join the national scheme.
The scheme will cover about 60,000 institutional child sexual abuse survivors nationally, with compensation payments capped at $150,000.