The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle


Contact your local team for a free consultation to find out if you are eligible for compensation

The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is located a couple of hours north of Sydney, NSW. It is a Diocese that has historically harboured some of the worst child abusers in NSW and been responsible for decades of institutional abuse within parishes.
According to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual abuse, Report of Case study No 43, “The Response of Catholic Church Authorities to allegations of child sexual abuse in the Maitland Newcastle region”, the systemic issues arising out of this Diocese were:

  1. Knowledge by senior Church personnel of allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests.
  2. Movement and treatment of priest accused of child sexual abuse.
  3. The need to have and apply policies and procedures for handling complaints of child sexual abuse;
  4. Laicisation of priests following conviction;
  5. Recordkeeping

Unfortunately, these systemic issues have allowed hundreds of children to be sexually and physically abused when they were growing up in various parishes, operated by the Diocese.

The Diocese was responsible for the following Parishes:

  • All Saints, Blackbutt South.
  • Beresfield.
  • Holy Trinity Blackbutt North.
  • Boolaroo-Warners Bay.
  • Booragul.
  • Branxton.
  • Cessnock.
  • Denman.
  • Dungog
  • Jesus the Good Shepherd East, Lake Macquarie.
  • East Maitland.
  • Forster Tuncurry.
  • Gloucester.
  • Gresford.
  • Krambach.
  • Kurri Kurri.
  • Lochinvar.
  • Mackillop.
  • Maitland
  • Mayfield
  • Merriwa
  • Morisset.
  • Morpeth.
  • Murrurundi.
  • Muswellbrook.
  • Myall Coast.
  • Nelson Bay.
  • Raymond Terrace.
  • Rutherford.
  • Scone.
  • Singleton.
  • St Benedict’s Inner Newcastle.
  • Stockton.
  • Sugarloaf.
  • Taree.
  • Toronto.
  • Wallsend-Shortland.
  • Wingham.

If you or someone that you know have been impacted by the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and would like to discuss your legal options in a supportive and comfortable environment, then please contact Stacks Goudkamp. If you settled your civil case against the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle prior to the Royal Commission or through Towards Healing or Zimmerman Services and you would like to look at your options about re-opening your case, the please do not hesitate to contact us.

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Spotlight  

Father Denis McAlinden

Born in Ireland in 1922, and sent to Australia in 1949 to benefit from a “regional Diocese”, Father Denis McAlinden came to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and became one of the worst child abusers in Australia. His appointments included the parishes of Singleton, Muswellbrook, Murrurundi and Greta. In 1969 he was transferred on loan to a Diocese called Mendi in Papua New Guinea. In 1974 he returned to become parish priest at the Kendall Parish, a Coastal town near Newcastle. According to Brokenrites, in 1980 Father McAlinden was sent to minister a remote town in Western Australia, Wickham, 1500km north of Perth. He was known as “Father Mac” during his time in WA. In around 1984 he was loaned to the Diocese of Hamilton in New Zealand where he supplied relieving priest work to rural parishes. He returned to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and ministered in Merriwa from late 1984 to 1988. Father McAlinden was then moved to the Bunbury Diocese in Western Australia, where he was listed as the parish priest in charge of St Bernard’s Parish at Kojonup until late 1992. Father McAlinden was arrested at this parish and charged with three incidents of indecent dealing with a child. The jury returned a not guilty verdict. According to the Herald sun, there was a warrant for his arrest in 1999. In 2005, it was revealed that he was in Western Australia and too sick to be extradited to NSW. He died shortly after and was never punished for his despicable crimes.

Father John Denham

Born in 1942 and recruited in the 1960’s as a trainee priest for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Father Denham belonged to the Diocese. Broken Rites ascertained in 1973 that Father Denham joined the staff of St Pius X College, at Adamstown, Newcastle. In 1980, the Diocese transferred Father Denham to work as an assistant priest in the parish of Charlestown. In 1981, he was transferred to a parish in Taree where he stayed until around 1985. In 1986, Father Denham was transferred to Waverly College, a Christian Brothers School in Sydney to work as the Chaplain. In 1994 Father Denham accepted a role at the Chevalier Resource Centre, a theological library in the grounds of the Sacred Heart Monastery in Kensington, Sydney. Father Denham was charged in 1999 for child abuse offences and convicted in 2000. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment which was suspended.

In 2008 he was charged again for child abuse offences and plead guilty in 2009. He faced further charges in 2018 and 2019 and was sentenced by Judge Mahony to a maximum of 13 years, with a non-parole period of 7.5 years. Due to earlier sentences, with good behaviour his earliest release date is July 2029.


If you or a loved one are a survivor of institutional abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. A claim for compensation can provide you with the financial care and support needed to move forward with your life.

Stacks Goudkamp’s specialist institutional abuse team have the expert knowledge and expertise needed to obtain outstanding results in all types of abuse claims.

We will act for you on a no win, no fee basis. We will listen to you and understand how your injuries have affected your quality of life, daily activities, work and all aspects of your life. We are here to help and always offer our legal services with compassion and respect.

Written by Alessandra Pettit 

Alessandra Pettit (Ali) is a specialist in historical institutional abuse law and practices exclusively in this area. She has acted for survivors from all walks of life and continues to get outstanding results for her clients. She is compassionate, thorough, professional and kind, always ensuring that her clients feel supported and confident throughout the legal process.

If you or a loved one are a survivor of institutional abuse, you may be entitled to compensation.  For more information and to arrange a free, no-obligation conference with Ali, please call Stacks Goudkamp on (02) 8294 7711, or alternatively make an online enquiry



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