The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard continues with results of its fifth investigation, launched on the 28th of January 2014 to look into four boys’ homes operated by The Salvation Army’s Australia Eastern Territory during the period from 1965-1977, now coming to light.
The commission has found the Christian organisation which has cared for upwards of 30,000 Australian children over the course of the decades, between 1894 and the 1990s, to be responsible for gross negligence and horrific abuse.
Within the two homes in Queensland and two in New South Wales, there is found to have been despicable wrongdoing against the children under their care, which counsel assisting the commission Simeon Beckett believes to be at the “severe end” of the sexual abuse cases examined so far.
Mr. Beckett told of how victims were given cold showers in winter, made to sweep the playgrounds with toothbrushes and raped. In the case of one boy, he was told to eat his own vomit. Mr. Beckett told the inquiry: “The boys were frequently punched by the officers with closed fists, thrown on the ground with force, or pressed up against a wall. Boys were hit with canes or straps until they developed bruising and blood blisters or welts. One boy had his shoulder dislocated by an officer during a punishment, which involved hitting his testicles with a leather strap. Two boys were locked in a cage on a veranda. Departmental records from Queensland record that the department’s officers considered the punishment excessive by the standards of the day and were deeply concerned about it.”
It’s completely sickening hearing of the unimaginable pain suffered by those young children who knew that help would not be given because, as Mr. Beckett said, “When they ran away from the homes and told police of what had occurred, they were returned to the home by police where they were then physically punished.”
There has yet to be an apology from the Australian Police Service nor is it confirmed whether one will be forthcoming. It is also yet to be seen whether, after this commission into private, public or non-government institutions, there will be an investigated into responses to abuse within government institutions.
The Salvation Army has issued an apology and they have been, as you can see on their facebook page, speaking directly with commenters.
The commission continues with many more hearings scheduled for the coming months to look into past abuse perpetrated within organisations, homes and care facilities. Whilst these all deserve the full weight of the law behind them to finally prosecute offenders and provide justice for victims, meanwhile we, as Australians (and ‘we’ as members of the media), need to stop thinking of this as a problem long gone and stop believing some of the myths surrounding the whole, entirely fucked, situation.
If you are concerned that a child is being abused you can speak anonymously with the government authorities in your state or territory using the phone numbers below:
ACT Care and Protection Services, 1300 556 729.
NSW Child Protection Helpline, 13 21 11.
NT Child Abuse Prevention Service, 1800 688 009.
QLD Child Safety Services, 1800 811 810 (business hours) or 1800 177 135 (after hours).
SA Child Abuse Report Line, 13 14 78. Tas: Child and Family Services Line, 1800 001 219.
VIC Child Protection Crisis Line, 13 12 78.
WA Crisis Care, (08) 9325 1111; 1800 199 008 (for callers outside Perth).
Young people can call Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. NAPCAN lists state services and national helplines. Visit www.napcan.org.au.