Roger Herft

The Most Reverend
Roger Herft
Anglican Archbishop of Perth
Church Anglican Church of Australia
See Anglican Diocese of Perth
In office 2005 present
Predecessor Peter Carnley
Successor incumbent
Consecration 11 June 2005
Personal details
Born (1948-07-11) 11 July 1948
Wattegama, Sri Lanka
Previous post Bishop of Waikato
Bishop of Newcastle

Roger Adrian Herft AM (born 11 July 1948) is a bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia. He has been the Archbishop of Perth since 2005.[1] He was previously the Bishop of Newcastle from 1993 to 2005 and Bishop of Waikato from 1986.

Early life and education

Born in Wattegama, Sri Lanka, Herft studied at the Royal College in Colombo, later training for the ministry at United Theological College of Lanka in Pilimatalawe, receiving a B.Th. and B.D. degree from the University of Serampore.[1][2]

Clerical career

After working in parish ministry and prison chaplaincy, he was invited by the Diocese of Waikato in New Zealand to become a Parish Consultant in 1983. In 1986, Herft was elected Bishop of Waikato, becoming one of the youngest bishops in the Anglican Communion.[1][2][3]

Herft was elected Bishop of Newcastle, New South Wales, in 1992 and enthroned at Christ Church Cathedral in May 1993.[1][4] He was chaplain of the 13th Lambeth Conference in 1998.[1][5][6]

In 2004, Herft was elected as the seventh Archbishop of Perth and Metropolitan of the Province of Western Australia and was installed on 11 June 2005, succeeding Peter Carnley.[1][7]

Herft nominated Kay Goldsworthy as Australia's first female Anglican bishop and consecrated her at St George's Cathedral in Perth on 22 May 2008.[8]

On 11 May 2016, it was announced that he would succeed Jack Nicholls as the next prelate of the Venerable Order of St John.[9] Prior to this he was sub prelate of the order in Western Australia.[10] On 1 September 2016, however, it was announced that Tim Stevens, formerly the Anglican Bishop of Leicester, had been appointed as the prelate.[11]

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

On 21 July 2016, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), published an article which stated that "One of the nation's most senior Anglicans, the Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, received complaints about a priest involved in a paedophile ring but allegedly failed to formally report him to police." The article also says that "Archbishop Herft wrote that the complaint "left me in an unenviable position" because "Father Peter had my licence [to be a priest] and if he reoffended I would be held liable as I now had prior knowledge of his alleged behaviour". There is no record of Herft reporting the priest to police.[12]

On 12 August 2016, Herft appeared before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and was questioned about his policy in regard to the reporting and responses to allegations of abuse. In an ABC report on the day's proceedings it was reported:

The commission was told Archbishop Herft wrote a policy in 1993 called "Principles and Procedures for Dealing with Accusations of Sexual Harassment".

He agreed it was not prepared with child sexual abuse allegations in mind. The commission heard there was nothing in the document about ensuring the Bishop was made aware of abuse complaints or about reporting allegations to police. Archbishop Herft said: "Looking back on it, it's a very naive approach ... This particular document, looking back on it, did not take cognisance of child sexual abuse." Ms Sharp: "Is it right that, at least during the first half of your tenure as Bishop, there was really no framework at all for dealing with allegations of child sexual ssault?" Archbishop Herft: "I think that would be accurate ma'am."

The commission also heard there were no steps in place to make sure the Bishop was told immediately about criminal allegations against priests.

Dan Cox, ABC News[13]

The same Australian Broadcasting Corporation report of 12 August 2016 also reported :

The commission was shown a record from a meeting in 1998 between former Bishop Herft and other church officials. It showed there was some concern that abuse allegations were not followed up unless a formal written complaint was given to the diocese. "If the allegation was sexual abuse of a child, someone under 18, did you require a formal written complaint before the diocese would react in any way at all?" asked commission chair Justice Peter McClellan. "I think that would be the position, you honour," Archbishop Herft replied. "That leaves children at risk. Do you think that was acceptable?" Justice McClellan asked.

"Totally unacceptable," Archbishop Herft replied.

Dan Cox, ABC News[13]

In an article published by The Australian newspaper reporter Dan Box wrote on 24 August

The Anglican Archbishop of Perth was allegedly told a senior priest was a sexual predator, including of children, on at least three occasions, documents tendered to a royal commission reveal, although his evidence says he “cannot recall” this happening at the time.

In 2010, Archbishop Herft wrote to internal church investigators saying he had no memory of child abuse allegations being made against Mr Lawrence, documents to the commission reveal.

This contrasts with evidence from another witness, Robert Wall, who told the commission he met then Bishop Herft in about 1994-95 to report allegations from two boys who “told us they had been sexually interfered with by Father Graeme Lawrence”.

In a second witness statement tendered to the commission, Archbishop Herft said he had no memory of this conversation, although his diary shows a meeting did take place on July 10, 1995.

An unsigned letter from Archbishop Herft to Mr Wall, dated three days later and tendered to the commission, states: “I have raised your particular concern with the priest against whom the allegations were made and he has clearly informed me that as far as he is concerned, he is not aware of any indiscretion.” Former archbishop of Sydney Richard “Harry” Goodhew has also given a witness statement to the commission, saying he “became aware of allegations … that Graeme Lawrence had been engaging in sexual activity with young boys” in late 1996.

In his note of a telephone conversation discussing these allegations the following year, he recorded “I had spoken with Bp Herft. The Bp had indicated that he would like the people concerned to make contact with him.

“Bp has already talked to (Mr Lawrence), who has denied any wrongdoing in the past.”

Another retired Anglican bishop, Bruce Clark, said in a statement he received an anonymous call in the late 1990s “that Graeme Lawrence was a sexual abuser”, although there was no specific reference to child abuse.

“I telephoned Bishop Roger Herft … (who) undertook to follow up on the allegations, and informed me … that he had approached Graeme Lawrence, who had denied them.”

In his second statement, Archbishop Herft said: “I have no recollection of this conversation, or ever receiving any correspondence from Bishop Clark about such an allegation against Graeme Lawrence.”

Dan Box, The Australian[14]

On 10 October 2016 Herft wrote a Pastoral letter stating that he was standing down as Archbishop. In the ABC report covering the announcement a spokeswoman stated that "Archbishop Herft's decision to stand aside from all duties was a temporary move." A leader of Care Leavers Australia, an advocacy group for adopted children and those children in Care Homes, said she thought the Archbishop should have resigned, and that she was "disappointed that he hasn't had the moral courage to resign".[15]


Herft is married to Cheryl and they have two adult sons, Romesh and Jason.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Archbishops Biography". Website of the Diocese of Perth. Diocese of Perth. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  2. 1 2 "Archbishop Roger Herft's migration odyssey". The University of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  3. "History of the Diocese". Website of the Diocese of Waikato. The Diocese of Waikato. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  4. "A Brief History of Christ Church Cathedral". Website of Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. The Diocese of Newcastle, Australia. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  5. "Chaplains at the ready in Eliot" (pdf). The Lambeth Daily. The 1998 Lambeth Conference. 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  6. Cynthia McFarland; Brian Reid & Simon Sarmiento (1998). "The Lambeth Conference". Society of Archbishop Justus. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  7. "Previous Bishops and Archbishop". Website of the Diocese of Perth. Diocese of Perth. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  8. Morris, Linda (23 May 2008). "Blessing of History, as first woman bishop consecrated". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  9. Archbishop of Perth website.
  10. Government House, Western Australia
  11. "Appointment of Great Officers". n.d. Retrieved 2016-09-02.
  12. Connolly, Anne (21 July 2016). "Archbishop allegedly failed to report paedophile ring 'kingpin'". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-08-26.
  13. 1 2 Cox, Dan (12 August 2016). "Archbishop would not report abuse claims if victim's name not known, inquiry hears". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-08-26.
  14. "Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft 'told of abuse priest'". The Australian. 24 August 2016. (subscription required (help)).
Anglican Communion titles
Preceded by
Peter Carnley
Archbishop of Perth
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