Child sexual abuse royal Commission:
12 Sep 2016
The Salvation Army failed to protect children in its institutions between 1940 and 1990 and provided a culture where they felt afraid and powerless to resist ongoing abuse, a royal commission has found.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse today released its response into its Salvation Army Southern Territory (TSAS) case study after hearing harrowing stories of physical and sexual abuse and cruelty.
It heard about a "culture of humiliation" and a "culture of punishment and fear" at Salvation Army-run children's homes in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, where children were regularly beaten, degraded and sexually abused.
It examined the Eden Park Boys' Home at Wistow in SA, the Box Hill and Bayswater Boys' homes in Victoria, and the Hollywood Children's Village at Nedlands in WA.
The royal commission found that before 1990 the organisation had no policies or procedures on abuse complaints and had failed to comply with its own orders and regulations governing staff misconduct.
The report concluded that the Salvation Army failed "to take action against staff and officers who were breaching Orders and Regulations prohibiting the mistreatment of children".
The royal commission found TSAS provided a culture in which:
- Children in institutions felt afraid to report sexual abuse
- Children felt powerless to resist the maltreatment
- The staff and officers whose behaviour was in breach of orders and regulations were able to, and did, continue the prohibited behaviour
In a statement, the Salvation Army acknowledged it failed to protect some children entrusted to its care "in the past".
"We are deeply sorry for all those who have suffered from our past actions and inactions and understand that for many people and their families this pain and trauma has been ongoing," it said.
"We will now take the time to study the report and its recommendations and consider the implications for the work of the Salvation Army."
Children physically punished for reporting abuse
The royal commission found that children who were abused at the Salvation Army-run homes were too scared to report the abuse and were threatened, accused of telling lies and sometimes physically harmed when they did.
PHOTO: The Eden Park Boys Home at Mount Barker was examined in the royal commission. (Supplied: Mt Barker Courier)
It said many former residents did not report their complaints of sexual abuse at the time it was occurring because:
- They did not think there was anyone to tell
- They did not think they would be believed
- They were threatened with physical harm
- When they did attempt to report the sexual abuse, they were accused of telling lies.
"We are also satisfied that some former residents were physically punished after telling officers or employees of the Salvation Army about their complaints of sexual abuse and this stopped them from disclosing any further incidents of sexual abuse," the report said.
Broader compensation claim review recommended
The royal commission heard the Salvation Army was conducting a review into 418 compensation claims from survivors of child sexual abuse that averaged about $40,000 per claim.
It heard the review was designed to identity "outliers and inconsistencies" in payments and prioritise claimants who were not legally represented until a national redress scheme was established.
The royal commission recommended it look back at compensation payouts to focus on all claims settled when the organisation was using legal technicalities as defences.
A spokesperson for the Salvation Army said all previously settled claims were included in the review, which "was conducted by an independent legal team".
He said a report of that review had been lodged with the royal commission.
The spokesperson said top-up payments of varying amounts were recommended in less than 20 per cent of those claims.
Salvation Army 'effectively' concealed child sexual abuse
The royal commission heard that in 2013, after a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations, the Salvation Army instructed Trevor Walker from its professional standards unit to investigate the organisation's historical responses to child sexual abuse.
The resulting report found the Salvation Army did not take steps to conceal claims of child sexual abuse or protect alleged perpetrators.
The royal commission differed from that conclusion.
It said Salvation Army Southern Territorial Commander Commissioner Floyd Tidd agreed in evidence that TSAS members received complaints of child sexual abuse that were not passed on to the police.
"Commissioner Tidd agreed that, in this way, the TSAS had inadvertently taken steps to conceal child sexual abuse and protect alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse," the report said.
"TSAS says that, while Commissioner Tidd agreed that TSAS had not always reported child sexual abuse and admitted that the failure to report abuse may have had the effect of protecting alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse, he was clear that TSAS's conduct was not, in his view, 'concealment' in the sense of the wilful covering-up of misconduct."
The royal commission accepted that in the absence of policy or procedure, TSAS "did not wilfully conceal allegations of child sexual abuse".
"However, as appropriately conceded by Commissioner Tidd, by not reporting allegations of child sexual abuse to the police it had the effect of concealing child sexual abuse and protecting the alleged perpetrator.
"In this way, we differ from the conclusion reached in Mr Walker's report."
- Salvation Army's Floyd Tidd talks about apology, compensation settlements and rebuilding trust
- Salvation Army told law firm to avoid courts, inquiry hears
- Salvation Army review of compensation settlements to focus on 'outliers', commissioner says
- Salvation Army officers may have believed children in homes were 'progeny of evil'
- Salvation Army commissioner apologises to victims
- Former Salvation Army home residents describe being bashed, having testicles squeezed until passing out
From other news sites:
- SBS: Report says Salvos' abuse went unreported
- Adelaide Now: Abused boys at Eden Park Salvation Army home were threatened if they complained
- Daily Mail: 1,659 cases of child sex abuse: Police struggling to cope with a massive increase in paedophilia claims following the royal commission
- The Guardian: Salvation Army fostered culture where abuse could continue, says royal commission
- Yahoo!7 News: Report says Salvo s abuse went unreported - Yahoo7