Pat Comben.
Pat Comben.

Deacon, former Qld Minister Pat Comben removed

THE Anglican Deacon involved in the Diocese of Grafton's initial response to child abuse allegations at the North Coast Children's Home has been removed from holy orders.

Patrick Comben was the former registrar of the Diocese of Grafton and also stood on the Clarence Valley Council between 2008-12.

Mr Comben, 65, also served as an education and health minister in the Queensland Goss administration before he was ordained and relocated to NSW.

His removal from holy orders followed a hearing by an independent professional standards board led by Sydney barrister Kevin Rolfe QC.

The board's recommendation was made to current Grafton bishop, Rev Dr Sarah Macneil, who adopted it and informed Mr Comben of his removal from the church. Under church law there is no avenue of appeal.

Former child abuse survivor Richard "Tommy" Campion was present at the hearing and said he felt vindicated by the church's decision.

Mr Campion said Mr Comben, while he was registrar at the Diocese, had admitted to allegations of "failing to respond to numerous claims of child abuse" which had occurred at the children's home between 1940 and 1985.

Mr Campion said Mr Comben had asked the barrister if it was possible for him to resign his Holy Orders "without being pushed" after admitting to the allegations.

He said Mr Comben had been "in a position of trust" when abuse claims started to belatedly crop up in the early 2000s.

He said the allegations should have been dealt with "quickly, passionately, and with absolute care for every child who was abused in that hellhole".

"It was a place that shed a lot of blood and a lot of heartache," he said.

"These people should have paid attention to that. If they had have done that and cared straight away and listened to the victims of abuse they wouldn't have had to go through this.

"They wanted to save their money, they wanted to save the good name of the Church."

A report by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found the Diocese of Grafton had denied responsibility for sexual abuse, denied compensation to victims, failed to comply with its own policies and dealt with victims insensitively.

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