Western Australia’s Benedictine Community of New Norcia rated among the worst for historical child sex offenders according to figures released by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Commission found the number of alleged priests who were perpetrators in the Catholic church in WA was higher than the national average.
The report found 7 per cent of priests from all Catholic Church authorities who ministered from 1950 to 2010 across Australia were accused of child sexual abuse, but for the Benedictine Community of New Norcia, the amount was more than triple that at 21.5 per cent.
In the 1950’s, 17.6 per cent of the Benedictine Community of New Norcia was subject to an allegation, compared to a 2.7 per cent of priests of all Catholic Church authorities with priest members in a ministry that was subject to a claim.
Almost 60 per cent of the abuse survivors who contacted the Commission reported being abused in faith-based institutions and two thirds of that group reported abuse in Catholic institutions.
In Western Australia the dioceses with highest proportion of alleged perpetrators included the Benedictine Community of New Norcia, the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth with 8.3 per cent and the Diocese of Bunbury at 7.8 per cent.
The Commission identified 1,880 alleged perpetrators and 500 unknown perpetrators Australia-wide.
Christian Brothers WA “harrowing”
In her opening address, Gail Furness SC said the accounts given to the Commission in 2014 by survivors of four institutions in Western Australia run by the Christian Brothers was “particularly harrowing”.
“The Christian Brothers had kept visitation reports and Provincial Council Minutes from 1919 which revealed concerns about Brothers sexually misconducting themselves with children,” she said.
“From 1959, such concerns were no longer reported in the minutes.”