Nine News reports…
“The Salvation Army failed to protect children from brutal sexual and physical abuse in four homes in NSW and Queensland, a royal commission has found.
The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse found the organisation consistently moved officers alleged to have brutalised boys between the homes in Indooroopilly and Riverview in Queensland and Bexley and Gill in NSW, rather than report them.
The findings by commission were handed down by the federal government yesterday and chronicles a list of brutalities at the Salvation Army-run homes which closed down between 1977 and 1983.
“There was a culture of frequent physical punishment which was on occasion brutal in all four boys’ homes operated by the Salvation Army from 1956 until their closure, which encouraged fear of officers,” the commission found.
Staff provided little emotional support and at Bexley in NSW there was a ‘bear pit’ mentality where one boy was told just to “get on with it” when informed his mother had died.
“In all four homes public, regular and excessive physical punishment occurred,” the commission found.
“At Riverview, one boy was dangled head first into a well. Another was tied to a tree with a chain attached to a metal collar. Others were put into a ‘cage’. One was forced to crawl around an oval naked holding a chicken in the air while others stood by laughing”.
Among the 36 findings were allegations that sexual abuse of the boys in the four homes was often accompanied by physical violence or the threat of physical violence and many boys were sexually abused by other boys.
In most cases, boys in the four homes who reported sexual abuse to the manager or other officer were punished, disbelieved, accused of lying or no action was taken, the commission found.
In its inquiry into the four homes last year the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse looked at the careers of five Salvation Army Officers accused of abuse – Victor Bennett and Lawrence Wilson, who are now dead, and Donald Schultz, John McIver and another man given the pseudonym X17.
The commission found the Salvation Army failed to report allegations to police or divisional headquarters in the case of Bennett and Wilson who worked at all four of the homes at different times.
Only one of the five men faced disciplinary proceedings about child sexual abuse at the time they worked in the homes.”