THE Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is calling for public input into a proposed memorial to acknowledge the victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
The diocese has hired Hunter firm Mara Consulting to conduct what Mara's principal Kelly Lofberg describes as "an independent program of consultation" between now and the end of June.
Mara has created a website that contains a range of material about the memorial proposal, and allows people to lodge submissions, photographs or ideas online.
Ms Lofberg said yesterday that Bishop Bill Wright had made a commitment to a memorial in a speech in 2017.
She said the consultation would help the diocese to "understand if a memorial is supported", and, if so, to help find "an appropriate way to establish a meaningful memorial, so this history is never forgotten".
The joint founder of the Clergy Abused Network (CAN), Bob O'Toole, said last night that whatever memorial the diocese proposed "has to be in a public place, somewhere prominent, such as the Newcastle foreshore".
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He believed there would be a push to have the memorial at the Sacred Heart Cathedral at Newcastle West but he said a memorial on church grounds would exclude the general public and those survivors who would never go near a church again.
Sacred Heart is highlighted in the 2017 quote from Bishop Wright highlighted on the Mara Consulting website, which says: "This memorial will be in a prominent place in the grounds of Sacred Heart Cathedral so that the diocese's history of child sexual abuse and cover-ups by clergy, religious and other church personnel is never forgotten".
Ms Lofberg said no decisions on the type of memorial, its location - or even if there would be a memorial - had been made.
It was to discuss issues such as those raised by Mr O'Toole that the diocese was consulting as widely as possible.
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She said the online consultation was designed to be private and feedback provided to the diocese would be anonymous. The website is bit.ly/MemorialConsultation
People could also ring or provide feedback in person.
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