Former Anglican priest Raymond Sydney Cheek was jailed for two years for sexually assaulting five boys in Albany, Williams and Perth between 1955 and 1985. Picture: Simon Santi / The West Australian
Almost 1100 people were sexually abused as children in Anglican church institutions, according to new data made public by a royal commission.
The figures show for the first time the extent of alleged child sex crimes within Anglican institutions and have been described by church leaders as shocking and shameful.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse analysed complaints received by Anglican authorities between 1980 and 2015.
Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness SC told the first day of the hearing into Anglican institutions that the figures are "likely to under-report the incidence of child sexual abuse".
Almost 570 alleged perpetrators were identified in the report, 247 of whom were ordained clergy.
The analysis found the church had paid $31 million in compensation to 459 claimants. An apology from the diocese was only offered to one in every four victims.
Ms Furness told the hearing the commission had referred 84 allegations to police, resulting in four prosecutions.
The four-day inquiry is examining the Anglican church's approach to child protection.
Almost 10 per cent of people who spoke to the commission in a private session alleged they were abused in Anglican institutions, including schools and childrens' homes.
The commission heard the church had struggled to address child sexual abuse in a nationally consistent way due to entrenched divisions between its 23 dioceses.
Outside the commission, Anglican church primate and Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier described the scale of abuse as shocking and promised that church leaders would co-operate to improve child protection.
In a statement to the commission, general secretary of the church's general synod Anne Hywood said: "In confronting our failings, we have been ashamed. We have had to face that we have not always protected the children we were trusted to care for."
She told the hearing there were times when church leaders allowed abuse to continue.
"We did not believe those who came forward and we tried to silence them [and] we cared more about the church's reputation than those who had been harmed," she said.
Outside the commission, lawyer Michelle James said a number of Anglican church abuse victims continued to fight the church for adequate redress.
"The extent of abuse unveiled today ... is shocking and appalling," said Ms James, an abuse specialist with law firm Maurice Blackburn.
"Unfortunately we know that many abuse survivors are still battling with the church's organisations to seek justice."
Ms James said institutions that fail to effectively address abuse should be stripped of their charity tax deductibility status.
Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson, who announced his resignation on Thursday after exposing internal opposition to his efforts to tackle a culture of cover-up in the Newcastle diocese, told the commission the church was riven by factionalism.
"I'm really disappointed that the national church hasn't been galvanised ... to have a common national response [to child protection]," he said.
"I think it's been undermined by tribal interests [and] vested interests. Child protection ... is being overwhelmed by these other vested interests."
The hearing before Justice Peter McClellan continues.
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