THE Office of the Children’s Guardian is conducting a risk assessment of a Muswellbrook Catholic priest over historic child abuse allegations.
Father John Alexander stood aside from parish ministry in November last year after the allegations triggered the need for a risk assessment under new child protection legislation.
He will remain on leave until the office provides a risk assessment for his ‘‘working with children’’ check, Maitland-Newcastle Diocese vicar-general Brian Mascord said.
Muswellbrook parishioners were advised of the priest’s status in a statement by Bishop Bill Wright.
The priest was the subject of ‘‘third-party accusations relating to incidents that were alleged to have occurred almost 30 years ago, prior to his becoming a priest’’, Father Mascord said.
The allegations had been investigated before and finalised.
‘‘Under the new child protection legislation introduced on June 15 ... , everyone in child-related work must now apply for a new ‘working with children check’ clearance from the Office of the Children’s Guardian,’’ Father Mascord said.
He added that ‘‘Father Alexander ensured he was one of the very first people to apply for the new clearance ... ’’
A spokeswoman for the Diocese said that once an outcome is received, it would be communicated to Muswellbrook parishioners.
‘‘The Diocese fully supports the process currently being conducted by the Office of the Children’s Guardian,’’ she said.
Father Alexander is listed on the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle website as administrator of the Muswellbrook parish.
He was raised in Mayfield, served in the navy and 17 years as a religious brother with a missionary before becoming a priest in December 2004.