Renee Viellaris. The Courier - Mail. Brisbane, Qld.:Dec 13, 2006. p. 1
FUTURE Anglican Church clergy will endure tough new psychological profiling to
weed out potential pedophiles.
Under a rigorous initiative to be adopted by the Brisbane diocese, about 200
existing clergy, including Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, also will face regular
The measures, which could be introduced by next year, are being delayed as
psychologists, lawyers and key clergy try to agree on the wording of a
questionnaire that addresses intimate personal habits.
Plans for the strategy, called the safe ministry check, come four years after
the diocese was ordered to pay $834,800 to a woman sexually abused as a child
by a boarding master at a Toowoomba school. Revelations emerged at the time
that former Brisbane archbishop Peter Hollingworth ignored allegations of
sexual abuse, forcing his resignation as governor-general in 2003.
Diocese professional standards director Rod McLary said the new procedures
would be among the first in Australia.
"When historical abuse allegation began emerging, the church locally and
nationally began working to improve child protection policies, including
screening procedures," Mr McLary said.
"Screening assessments are done at critical points along the journey to
"The present work being done is the beginning of a whole process that will
eventually cover all clergy and extend to all church workers in the future."
Volunteers and some staff informally hired in the past will now have to meet
selection criteria, sit for a formal interview and submit references for
checking, Mr McLary said.
He said psychologists had tested candidates in the past but the new system
would be more comprehensive and academic.
Under the process, a psychologist would meet a candidate and make
recommendations issued to a small number of people in the diocese.
If the psychologist advises a candidate should not be taken on, the
recommendation would be accepted in the absence of other key information.
"I think we can make an informed decision (but) there's no absolute of
predicting abuse in the future," Mr McLary said.
Professional standards implementation chairman Reverend Alan Moore said only
potential clergy -- priests and deacons -- would undergo
the extensive psychological screening.
Reverend Moore said candidates would be tested when they applied to the
Brisbane College of Theology and before they were ordained.
He said it was yet to be decided how often existing clergy would be reviewed
but it could coincide with the biennial renewal of their blue card, a State
Government requirement for people who work with children.
"We need to ensure they (new candidates) are psychologically sound (and) there
are certain psychological instruments that can help to see if they are suitable
for the job," Mr McLary said.
Other diocese are also likely to adopt similar measures.