(AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC CLERGY REMUNERATION & ASSISTANCE FUND)
ACCRAF had its beginning back in 1988 at the instigation of the National Council of Priests (NCP).
First called RAFT (Remuneration Assistance Fund Trust), it arose out of discussions at a Priests Convention re the inequity in remuneration received by priests in various dioceses of Australia. The NCP National Committee appointed Fr Tony Redden to initiate steps to set up the body in conjunction with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).
An interim committee was established and met in Sydney on 2nd July 1988.
A number of recommendations were agreed to. This was followed by lengthy negotiations with ACBC and legal advisers re the establishment of an appropriate Fund. There was consultation with most of the diocesan Remunerations Funds etc and also with the bishops through Bishop Ron Mulkearns, who at time was the Chair of the Episcopal Committee for Clergy & Religious.
A report in The Catholic Weekly re the ACBC, April 1988 reads in part:
"The bishops have decided to appoint a committee to examine the financial situation of clergy in needy Australian diocese. This committee will draw up a document on the subject for consideration by clergy remuneration funds throughout Australia for supplementary assistance to priests in those dioceses… .”
Eventually a formal document of Statutes was drawn up under the auspice of the ACBC and at the December 1990 meeting the ACBC agreed:
"That the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in accordance with CIC canon 116 erect and establish a private collegial juridical person known as Australian Catholic Clergy Remuneration Fund.”
ACCRAF is administered by a committee of three as required in the Statutes - one from NCP, one from contributing funds and one from recipient funds.
Committee members for 2017 are:
- Fr Greg Trythall (Archdiocese of Melbourne, Chairman/Treasurer)
- Fr Mark Franklin (Archdiocese of Brisbane, representing the contributing dioceses)
- Fr Matt Digges (Diocese of Broome, representing the recipient dioceses)
The income is derived from contributions from various Remuneration Funds and in addition a substantial contribution comes from individual members of NCP.
Over the years the principal recipient has been the Broome Priests Remuneration Fund, but assistance has also been given to Darwin, Port Pirie and Geraldton.
Initially the Statutes only allowed assistance to be given to Remuneration Funds, but in 2009 the Statutes were amended so that individual priests could apply for assistance.
ACCRAF continues to have an important role in helping to provide adequate income to priests, especially those in poorer outlying dioceses of Australia.