Survivors’ support group and bishop sign memorandum of understanding

memorandum of understanding

Last Friday the Catholic bishop of Dunedin, Michael Dooley, signed a memorandum of understanding with representatives from the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Aotearoa New Zealand support group (MSSAT Aotearoa) according to a report in the Otago Daily Times.

The Otago branch senior manager of MSSAT Aotearoa, Dugal Armour, said the agreement meant survivors of faith-based abuse would be referred by the church to a new MSSAT Aotearoa group launched in Dunedin to cater for them.

The group could then work with survivors to help them access whatever services they needed, such as counselling, either one-on-one or as part of the group, he said.

About 40 survivors in Dunedin are presently being assisted by MSSAT Aotearoa.

They are from a variety of settings including state care.

The new Dunedin faith-based support group had only recently been launched but already had nine members, Armour said.

MSSAT Aotearoa chairman Philip Chapman said the agreement was initiated by his group and was believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

It was hoped the agreement could become a template for other dioceses across the country.

The agreement would “keep survivors together and ensure they are getting the support they need”, he said.

He praised Dooley for taking the steps necessary to address the impact on survivors of faith-based sexual abuse.

Dooley said the “goodwill” between him and the MSSAT Aotearoa group was “really important” and would help deliver better outcomes for survivors.

He hoped other dioceses would follow in Dunedin’s footsteps, regardless of how they did so.

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSAT) was registered as a charitable trust in 1997.

A hui in 2015 agreed to establish the national organisation – Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Poari o Ngā Mōrehu Taitōkai o Aotearoa [MSSAT Aotearoa].

The national organisation includes support groups in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin.


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