Diocese: 'shame of past failures will remain with us'

THE Anglican Diocese of Grafton has accepted a royal commission's damning conclusions about its failure to properly respond to decades of child sexual abuse at the North Coast Children's Home.

A spokesman said the disgrace would stay with the church but every effort would be made to put things right.

"Whatever shortcomings and failures there may have been dealing with these issues in the past, our diocese has made major changes in attitude, protocol and response," he said.

"The diocese is totally committed to facing its responsibilities and responding appropriately to any reports of abuse experienced by persons for whom we have a duty of care.

"The weight and the shame of past failures will remain with us for a long time and regrettably we cannot undo what has been done."

The royal commission found the diocese had disregarded its own policies in its handling of abuse claims and failed to take action against predator priests.

Bishop of Grafton Sarah Macneil said the church had already started "implementing the recommendations of the royal commission and taking great care to determine what other improvements are needed".

"We are committed to offering support to victims of abuse as they rebuild their lives and all claims which come forward are now handled according to diocesan policies," she said.

"We are also committed to learning from the past and will continue to strengthen processes and safeguards for the protection of the vulnerable in our care."

A spokesperson for the diocese agreed the church's handling of complaints between 2005 and 2013 was inadequate and inappropriate.