Resolving claims for damages for harm caused by child sexual assault

While the Diocese is a signatory to the Towards Healing process; almost all of people who have been affected by historic child sexual abuse now choose to pursue claims for damages directly with the Diocese.

The Manager Zimmerman Services 'manages' claims brought against the Diocese in accordance with a voluntary protocol. The intent of the Diocese is to provide equitable financial compensation for harm caused. The Diocese's protocol for settling claims are designed to minimise litigiousness in achieving a settlement and reduce the risk of further harm being caused to the claimant.

However, the Diocese needs to achieve a degree of certainty as to the factual basis of the allegations, 'due diligence' investigations may be conducted by Zimmerman Services to help gather all available evidence on the claim within the Diocese (e.g. school enrolment etc.).

In recognition that there is a risk that some past settlements may have been financially inadequate, the Diocese has developed a voluntary protocol to assist those who wish to revisit their settlements.

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.

Healing and Support personnel will continue to support their client, should they be a claimant but play no other role in this process.

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 Manager Zimmerman Services instructs the Diocese's legal counsel on behalf of the Diocese.

Managing civil claims is a particular function distinct from the broader response provided through the Healing and Support Team.