The Federal Government and Labor Opposition have both called out the Anglican Church for shifting $40 million of its child rape liabilities into a taxpayer-funded aged care provider.
As revealed by The Klaxon Sunday, the Anglican Church’s Sydney Diocese has secretively shifted its $39.25m of historic child abuse costs into its publicly-funded aged care arm, Anglicare Sydney.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck told The Klaxon all taxpayer money given to Anglicare Sydney – $248.4m last financial year alone – should go to providing aged care.
“Given Anglicare’s recent appeal for more funding, I would expect every single dollar it receives for aged care to go to aged care,” Colbeck said.
“Providers have a responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of aged care residents remains a priority.”
Anglicare Sydney has been calling for more government funding, claiming its financial situation is “dire”.
Yet The Klaxon has revealed it is spending millions of dollars a year on child sex abuse payouts, with $7.25m paid out since 2016.
ALP aged care spokeswoman, MP Clare O’Neil, told The Klaxon the actions of the Anglican Church Sydney were “completely inappropriate”.
“It is essential that they meet their legal obligations to pay these claims but it is also completely inappropriate to have moved these liabilities over to its aged care arm, particularly if public aged care funding has been used to pay these claims,” O’Neil said.
“This is just another example of the lack of transparency and accountability in the aged care sector.”
Despite being admonished by both sides of politics, Anglicare Sydney, its entire board – and Sydney Archbishop Kanishka Raffel – are all steadfastly refusing to comment.
The head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Primate Geoffrey Smith, is also yet to comment on the scandal roiling the church.
Richard Colbeck. Inset: Sydney Archbishop Kanishka Raffel. Source: ABC/Supplied
The Anglican Church Sydney Diocese is the biggest, one of the richest, and considered the most “conservative” – spending $1m on the unsuccessful “No” campaign against same sex marriage.
A so-called “not-for-profit”, its arm Anglicare Sydney is one of the nation’s biggest aged care operators, with 23 aged care facilities in and around Sydney. It also has 22 retirement villages.Colbeck said “quality care” must be Anglicare Sydney’s “first priority”.
How The Klaxon broke the story Sunday. Source: The Klaxon
“Aged care and services must be delivered in accordance with the Aged Care Quality Standards and Anglicare is subject to the same checks and balances as other providers around Australia,” he said.
Yet, remarkably, those “checks and balances” don’t extend to ensuring taxpayer aged care funding – billions of dollars a year – is actually used for that purpose.
That’s despite the aged care sector being rocked by years of rolling scandals and the subject of a highly-damning, two-and-a-half year Royal Commission, completed in February last year.
It found aged care homes were spending just $6 a day on food per resident and heard evidence that two-thirds of residents were either malnourished or in danger of becoming so.
In response Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year announced a $10 a day per resident “supplement” – but no stipulations were put on how it is spent.
The first government analysis of the scheme this month found one-third of the nation’s 2600 aged care homes were still spending less than $10 a day per resident on nutrition, despite the extra $10.
The Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR) on Tuesday released a report, Careless on Accountability, and found there was little evidence the extra $10 a day was going solely to food.
Aged care expert Dr Sarah Russell, who is running as an independent in the upcoming federal election on a platform of accountability and transparency in government spending, told The Klaxon there were currently no restrictions on how aged care funding was spent.
How The Klaxon broke the story Sunday. Source: The Klaxon
“That is spelled out clearly on the new $10 a day per resident,” Dr Russell said.
“In their final report, the royal commissioners noted that aged care providers have a history of not spending extra government money on what they were supposed to.
“So why did the government give them further billions without tying the money to direct care and food?”
Colbeck said the government has plans to tighten some of the rules around aged care funding, including “introducing more stringent reporting requirements and increased checks and balances”.
Yet it does not appear to be planning to actually close the loophole that Anglicare Sydney is openly exploiting.
“In the 2021-22 Budget, the Government announced the phased implementation of the ‘Financial and Prudential Monitoring, Compliance and Intervention Framework’ to strengthen the financial oversight of the aged care sector, expand the reporting requirements on providers, and build providers’ transparency,” Colbeck said.
Currently aged care providers are only required to meet a certain level of “care”.
“Approved providers have responsibilities under the Aged Care Act regarding the quality of care provided, the user rights of people receiving care and being accountable for care provided,” Colbeck said.
Yet it is extremely rare for aged care providers to be held accountable if they breach the requirements – even when they’re caught out.
How The Klaxon broke the story last month. Source: The Klaxon.
Anglicare Sydney is the operator of Newmarch House, where 17 people died after Covid swept through the facility in mid-2020 in what was then nation’s deadliest outbreak.
An independent report into the tragedy was dating of Anglicare Sydney.
Yet as revealed by The Klaxon, just one month after that tragedy was declared officially over Newmarch House comprehensively failed its government inspection – but was allowed to continue operating regardless.
Colbeck’s aged care regulator the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) gave Newmarch House the green-light to keep operating despite its own inspectors finding the facility was in breach of over 80 per cent of its compliance standards.
ASQSC inspectors completed a four-day site inspection at Newmarch House and found it “non-compliant” in a massive 35 of its 42 compliance criteria, one of the worst report cards ever handed to an Australian aged care home.
A spokesman for Anglican Church in Australia head said Primate Smith – who is also the Archbishop of Adelaide – could not comment because of the structure of the church.
“There is nothing the Archbishop will be able to add to this story due to the way the Anglican Church is administered,” spokesman Bill Conde told The Klaxon.
“Nor is he qualified to comment on business, financial or organisational matters to do with the Sydney Diocese.”
The Anglican Church has 23 diocese in Australia which are individually self-governed, although they all form part of umbrella organisation the Anglican Church of Australia.
Primate Smith’s spokesman said the church’s structure meant the head of the Anglican Church of Australia, would not comment.
“The Primate has no participation in, or responsibility for the affairs of any individual diocese,” he said.
“Archbishop Smith as Primate is responsible for matters raised by the General Synod about the overall Church in Australia for the administration of his own diocese – the Diocese of Adelaide.
“You will have to raise these matters with the Sydney archdiocese,” he said.
The Klaxon has been raising these specific issues with the Sydney Diocese, and its fully-controlled arm Anglicare Sydney, since December 13.
We have received no response.
Anglican Church Primate Geoffrey Smith. Source: Anglican Church of Australia
In 2016 Anglican Diocese executives Greg Hammond, a corporate lawyer, and Grant Millard, a lawyer and tax haven specialist accountant, oversaw the scheme offloading the child rape liabilities.
In July 2016 they oversaw the creation of a new entity, officially called Anglican Community Services but trading as “Anglicare Sydney”.
Hammond was appointed chair of Anglicare Sydney and Millard its CEO.
Anglicare Sydney, which is dependent on taxpayer funds to operate, then issued an “indemnity” to the Sydney Diocese for all of its historical child sex abuse liabilities.
Greg Hammond, Anglicare Sydney chair. Source: Anglicare Sydney
That meant the Diocese’s extensive assets – hundreds of churches in and around Sydney – were not longer exposed to the child rape liabilities.
To date the taxpayer-funded Anglicare Sydney has paid out $7.25m to the Anglican Church’s child rape victims.
The total “indemnity” that Anglicare Sydney provided to the Anglican Sydney Diocese was initially recorded as $21.35m but in 2019-20 it inexplicably almost doubled, soaring by $19.1m in that one year.
In all, including its payouts to date, Anglicare Sydney has been saddled with child abuse liabilities of $39.25m.
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