Editorial February 18 2017

On the face of it, it appears the Catholic Church has short-changed the region in terms of payments to victims of abuse.

The Illawarra Mercury revealed recently the Wollongong Diocese was named as one of five areas with the highest of proportion of priests alleged to be perpetrators.

Yet in contrast, the region has only received a handful in compensation payments to victims.

The Mercury has revealed only half a million dollars has been paid to Wollongong victims of alleged child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church.

That equates to less than two per cent of  the $280 million paid out by the church over the past 35 years to victims.

The data was released this week by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The commission put the average Wollongong payment of financial compensation at $46,000 compared to the national average of $91,000.

The entire situation is worse when you stop and consider in all likelihood the real number of children abused here was likely to be higher than the data shows.

It’s a horrifying thought. Horrifying that for years that nothing was done and in many cases such abuse was covered up, denied and the perpetrators protected.

Speaking outside the hearing this week, chief executive of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council Francis Sullivan said: "From the 1950s to the current time this report chronicles human damage and misery at the hands of the Catholic church."

Mr Sullivan noted the Catholic Church had boosted child protection protocols.

"Even though it took the Catholic church far too long to get its act together, it has put in place policies, procedures, prevention strategies, reporting requirements and obligations to police," he said.

Mark Eustance, ‎director of Professional Standards - Catholic Church (Queensland), told the inquiry people are still reluctant to report suspected abuse.

"There's still a reticence to make a telephone call or blow the whistle if concerning information is raised," he said.

"I think that is changing though."

Everyone hopes that is changing.

If you feel a need for support or more information you can contact Blue Knot Helpline 1300 657 380. Care Leavers Australia Network 1800 008 774. Survivors & Mates Support Network 1800 472 676.