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After 18 years investigating pedophiles in the Catholic Church, Peter O'Callaghan QC is sure of one thing: people don't make up stories about sexual abuse.
He was appointed in 1996 to investigate sexual abuse in the Melbourne archdiocese and thought the claims would flood in over the first six months.
They never stopped coming.
Almost two decades later he is still getting calls from victims, including one during a break in a royal commission hearing on Monday.
As the independent commissioner of the church's Melbourne Response to clergy sex abuse, Mr O'Callaghan has identified 81 offenders and upheld 326 claims of abuse since October 1996, with just nine claims unsubstantiated.
"I've reached a clear impression that one doesn't fake stories about sexual abuse," Mr O'Callaghan told the child abuse royal commission.
He recommended victims get payouts through the Melbourne Response, which initially capped compensation payments at $50,000 and later $75,000.
But in cases where the church knew a priest had abused children but he was moved to another Melbourne parish to offend again, Mr O'Callaghan told some victims to get independent legal advice.
"It was apparent to me that the abuse took place after the archdiocese was aware of previous abuse by that priest," Mr O'Callaghan said.
He highlighted the case of the late Father William Baker, who was reported for abuse in Gladstone Park and was then transferred to Eltham, where he offended again.
Mr O'Callaghan said he told one victim legal action would be better than accepting a Melbourne Response payout.
"I thought he would have much more success, and I think he did," Mr O'Callaghan said.
"Typically, of course, if you can mount a case at common law you will recover much more than the ex gratia compensation."
Victims who have won legal cases against the church got an average of $293,000, compared to the average $33,000 payout received through the Melbourne Response.
Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan repeatedly asked Mr O'Callaghan if in 18 years of hearing victims' stories he thought the capped payments were fair.
"I don't think it's appropriate for me to make any public statement," Mr O'Callaghan said.
Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has promised to look at reviewing compensation payments paid under the Melbourne Response.
The royal commission has heard from more than 2000 victims in private hearings, but a further 3000 could be left without a say if funding isn't forthcoming.
A commission spokeswoman said it would have to stop taking new complaints in September or October unless government funding is extended until 2017.
A spokesman for Attorney-General George Brandis said the government was "actively considering" the request.
"The government has always supported the important work of the royal commission and has always provided sufficient funds for it to carry out its work," he told AAP.
THE MELBOURNE ARCHDIOCESE OFFENDERS
- 81 identified abusers since 1996
- 64 priests (39 dead)
- 10 lay people
- 5 religious sisters
- 1 religious brother
- 1 deacon
- Another 15 unidentified.
(Source: The Catholic Church's Melbourne Response)