"apart from Indonesia...."
Ja mijnheer de Voorzitter, wij hebben een communicatieprobleem
|niks noppes nada|
|niks noppes nada|
Prachtige woorden, transparant en we are sorry internationaal verspreid
|thee met donuts|
Commissioner James Condon, head of the army’s eastern territory, told the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse it already had a People First redress program in place.
However, he said the Salvation Army would take part in talks on a national scheme, proposed by the Catholic and Anglican churches.
“We are more than prepared to enter into dialogue regarding that,” Condon told the hearing in Sydney on Monday in reply to a question from commission chair Justice Peter McClellan.
The commission has heard the Salvation Army has unreservedly apologised to victims of abuse.
But Condon said there were still victims who found it difficult to approach the Salvation Army.
“There are people in the hearing room here who find it difficult to see the [Salvation Army] uniform and that makes me sad”, he said.
“We invite all who were harmed to get in touch with us”.
Justice McClellan asked if the Salvation Army would accept legal responsibility for illegal acts.
In the past two weeks, the commission has heard accounts of sexual and physical abuse by Salvation Army officers at four boys’ homes in NSW and Queensland. They include the Bexley home for boys in south Sydney and the Gill Memorial Home in Goulburn as well as the Alkira home in Indooroopilly and a training farm in Riverview, Queensland.
Condon replied: “Yes, we will accept that responsibility”.
However, the Salvation Army was set up as a charitable trust and did not employ its officers, leaving open the question of liability.
This is also the situation with the Catholic and Anglican churches, which have disputed liability when it comes to compensating victims.
Justice McClellan asked if the Salvation Army’s insurer would prevent it from accepting responsibility.
Condon said he would need to get more information.
Earlier on Monday, Condon said the Salvation Army would not contest liability if victims came forward.
Of 157 abuse claims made in the past 10 to 12 years, 133 resulted in ex-gratia payments and six claimants received apologies and counselling help. Eight were rejected after investigations and some claimants lost contact.
The Salvation Army no longer runs children’s homes in Australia but is involved in foster care services and events, such as summer camps for underprivileged children.
The transparency of its redress program, which requires abuse survivors to sign a deed of release, has been questioned.
Justice McClellan asked why those receiving compensation were required to stay silent on the amount.
Condon said it was put in place to stop people comparing abuse and payouts.
He said the organisation’s personal standards office, which carried out basic investigations, had a formula to calculate payouts although this information was not available to victims.
Pressed on the issue of transparency by the commission, Condon said: “I am happy to look at that”.
Head of Salvos 'is sickened'
At least 157 men claim to have been physically and sexually abused while living at boys' homes run by the army in NSW and Queensland, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard.
In what may be an unprecedented scandal in its international history, 23 men have been identified as alleged abusers, 19 of whom were officers or envoys of the Salvation Army itself.
In a personal letter to the commission chairman, Peter McClellan, the army's London-based General Andre Cox said he has "been sickened by much of the harrowing evidence presented" to the hearing.
"I still struggle to comprehend that these acts were perpetrated by Salvation Army officers," he said in the letter, tendered to the commission yesterday. General Cox, who has ultimate authority for the army's roughly 1.1 million soldiers, has also revised the organisation's child protection policies and written to every commanding officer in 126 countries about the commission's hearing.
This letter, sent on the day the current hearing began, directs Salvation Army personnel to review and enforce their own disciplinary procedures "to ensure no abuse of any kind is taking place."
"You will be very much aware of the fact that the royal commission is now under way in Australia . . . I am disturbed to the very depth of my being by what I am reading in these days," the letter said.
Giving evidence yesterday, the commander of the Salvation Army's Eastern Territory of Queensland, NSW and the ACT openly wept while offering an unreserved apology for what he called the organisation's "greatest failure".
"Evil and damaged people were able to get away with child sexual abuse for too long," Commissioner James Condon told the commission, and the result was "a betrayal . . . of everything the Salvation Army was meant to be".
Poor recruitment and oversight of those working at the homes allowed the brutal treatment to take place, Commissioner Condon said, and "we are sorry, deeply sorry for every instance when children were sexually abused."
The army was willing to discuss setting up a national redress scheme with power to decide how much compensation churches and other organisations provide to victims of child abuse, he said.
Both the Anglican and Catholic churches have previously suggested they, too, would support the proposal, which is increasingly seen as one of the key considerations facing the commission. "There are lots of reasons we would support it and we want to enter into dialogue regarding it," Commissioner Condon said.
"Well, that dialogue will take place further down the track," Justice McClellan replied.