Anglican Church must be stripped of tax deductibility status in light of shocking abuse
20 March 2017
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have called for the Anglican Church to be stripped of its charity tax deductibility status if it continues to fail to deal with abuse within the Church’s affiliated organisations, after more than 1000 complaints of alleged child sexual abuse were today disclosed by the Royal Commission.
Maurice Blackburn Principal and head of the firm’s Abuse practice Michelle James said the Anglican Church and countless other organisations had repeatedly been found to have done the wrong thing by abuse survivors, yet continued to enjoy the unlimited support of Australian taxpayers.
“The extent of abuse unveiled today by the Royal Commission regarding the Anglican Church’s organisations is shocking and appalling,” Ms James said.
“Unfortunately we know that many abuse survivors are still battling with the Church’s organisations to seek justice for what happened to them.
“Organisations like the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church and Scouts NSW have reaped millions of dollars of income by virtue of their tax deductibility status, yet they still show complete disregard for abuse survivors.
“It is completely unacceptable and it needs to stop.
“Today we call on the Australian Government to set a clear deadline for the Anglican Church: step up genuinely for abuse survivors or be stripped of your tax deductibility status.
“Under Governance Standard 5 of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), there is a responsibility for charities to “act with reasonable care and diligence”.
“We request that the Minister for Social Services request the ACNC Commissioner to advise on steps she can take to immediately suspend registration of the Anglican Church for failing to meet Standard 5.
“Furthermore, the Australian Government should immediately move to amend Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013. That amendment should explicitly define Governance Standard 5 as meeting standards recommended by the Institutional Abuse Royal Commission.
“It should never have had to get to this point, but it is clear that despite the extent of the abuse uncovered and the process of the Royal Commission that too many organisations still fail to recognise they have an obligation to help survivors.
“It is time for the Australian Government to take a tough approach and to send a strong message that enough is enough and there will be real consequences for failing to act.
“If the Anglican Church’s taxpayer benefits are on the line then sadly that might finally be the incentive they need to step up for survivors,” she said.