Port Macquarie’s Greg Higgins is agitating for the mandatory reporting of child abuse within the Catholic Church.
Mr Higgins has started a petition on change.org and says the argument needs a shift in focus.
“We should be making this a moral question and not a religious question,” he says.
“I’d also suggest that we need to move the administration of mandatory reporting from the states and have it sit within the federal jurisdiction.
“There are many examples where a significant risk to children has been identified and the states have gone through the process of a Royal Commission or the like. But the common theme that has come up time and again is that of mandatory reporting.”
Mandatory reporting must be brought in immediately, in every state and territory in Australia, to include all persons working or volunteering in a religious organisation.Greg Higgins
On February 24, Justice Peter McClellan asked five leading Catholic bishops if they would grant absolution to someone who confessed to abusing a child, and whether they would be prepared to break the seal of confession and tell authorities.
“The response was mixed and very frightening with the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, revealing he would not break the Seal of the Confessional and inform authorities if a child during confession told him they had been abused, but instead would try and persuade the child to tell someone,” he said.
“Mandatory reporting must be brought in immediately, in every state and territory in Australia, to include all persons working or volunteering in a religious organisation.”
Mr Higgins said Ireland had introduced legislation where priests were mandated to inform relevant authorities of any cases of child abuse.
“And the Irish prime minister introduced a penalty in line with that legislation to make it meaningful,” he added.
Despite numerous senior politicians weighing into the argument in the past, Mr Higgins said he had never really seen anything powered by the people.
“And while it is frustrating to me that we are a very apathetic nation, I started the petition to see if there are any people outraged by the current situation.
“There was a big spike when the petition first went up. I hope people give it a bit more air time.
“If you are not outraged you are not paying attention,” he said.
CLICK HERE to sign the petition.