The Salvation Army operations in Australia are divided in those of the Eastern Territory (Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT) and the Southern Territory (Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory).
Additionally, the Salvation Army has long maintained a respected position in Australian society. As a charity and a church it engages with a broad cross section of the public. In 2015, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (“The Royal Commission”) undertook a Case Study (No. 5) into abuse that occurred at four residential boys’ homes operated by The Salvation Army in New South Wales and Queensland. These homes were:
- Gill Memorial Home, Goulburn, NSW (operated 1936 – 1980)
- Bexley Boys’ Home, Bexley, NSW (operated 1915 – 1979)
- Riverview Training Farm (also known as Endeavour Training Farm), Riverview, Queensland (operated 1922 – 1983)
- Alkira Salvation Army Home for Boys, Indooroopilly, Queensland (operated 1898 – 1977)
The Royal Commission looked at a period between the 1950s and 1970s when many boys were sent to live at the boys’ homes run by The Salvation Army for various reasons, including that they were wards of the State, they suffered abuse or neglect from their own families, their parents were unable to look after them because of illness or the need to work, they were convicted of a criminal offence or deemed “uncontrollable” and placed in the homes by the courts.
The Royal Commission heard shocking accounts of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, including brutal canings, beatings, rape, boys being threatened and boys being locked in a cage as punishment.
How does abuse happen?
The Royal Commission found that the homes studied were run in a highly regimented and authoritarian way. The brutality of punishments caused the boys to fear the officers, which lead to covering up of such abuse and a fear of reporting incidents.
It was found that in most cases reporting sexual abuse to a manager or officer resulted in the boy reporting the abuse being punished, disbelieved, accused of lying or no action taken at all. In many instances, boys did not report the abuse they suffered to anyone as they were scared of punishment and/or not being believed.
The Royal Commission Case Study records examples of senior officers of The Salvation Army failing to keep records of allegations of abuse, failing to investigate allegations of abuse, failing to take any disciplinary action, failing to report abuse to the police for investigation and in many cases, failing to take any action at all.
The Royal Commission found that some Salvation Army officers and staff who had been accused or found to have abused children were moved between these homes, often without this crucial knowledge being made known to those in charge at the boys’ homes they were being moved to.
In further shocking findings, the Royal Commission also found that government agencies in both Queensland and New South Wales responsible for child welfare were aware of physical abuse, sexual abuse and poor living conditions at the homes, yet were slow to respond, rarely recorded allegations of child sexual abuse and were generally not referring allegations to Police.
In response to the Royal Commissions report, The Salvation Army acknowledged the findings and stated their commitment to helping and healing survivors. They announced their intention to join the National Redress Scheme in May 2018.
For survivors, there may be other legal options they can consider as the Redress Scheme only provides a very small amount of compensation. This is where Koffels can help. We run claims in the Supreme Court and the amount of compensation can be a multiple of what can be obtained under the Redress Scheme and these claims we run provide a level of compensation that survivors deserve. Contact us and discuss your claim.
To this end, Koffels Solicitors & Barristers have made substantial headway into providing support and compensation for those individuals who have suffered through sexual abuse. Due to the fact we are working with victims on a regular basis, we see first hand and understand the incredible impact that this abuse has on the life of an individual.
In many cases the offences were brought to the attention of superiors yet no action was taken against these predators. The very real difficulties so far in life that have arisen as a direct result of the abuse will form part of the compensation that we will seek on your behalf. For a private and confidential conversation with Mr Koffel to discuss your experience and the possibility of a claim, please contact us using our secure and private online form here or to be sure call Ross on 02 9283 5599.