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The Salvation Army in hot water after abuse allegations

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A senior figure of The Salvation Army has told a royal commission about harsh conditions in the organisation’s former children’s homes, with residents calling the movement “The Starvation Army”.

The frank appraisal came after the commission heard a further eight retired officers had been dismissed following sex abuse hearings and that the organisation had underpaid survivors.

Retired officer of 30 years’ service David Eldridge on Wednesday said he would be “hard pressed to say that any of the boys’ homes … were warm and loving environments” and that workers felt they had such power over children that they could commit physical and sexual abuse.

Commissioner Andrew Murray asked Eldridge whether he was aware that some former residents used to call the group “The Starvation Army”.

“The food was often bolstered by food that was, in a sense, begged from local grocery stores or fruit shops,” Eldridge, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his work for youth and homeless people, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“I think that the dietary issues were not well addressed, that food wasn’t plentiful.”

A hearing is investigating how The Salvation Army’s two Australian territories have addressed royal commission findings about their failures in dealing sexual abuse allegations across the country.

It heard the organisation’s Eastern Territory has reviewed 196 child sexual abuse claims relating to child sexual abuse, which resulted in $6.2 million in ex gratia payments being made to sex abuse victims of children’s homes.

Documents given to the commission show the minimum payment to victims in four boys’ homes has increased from $30,000 to $60,000 over the last two years.

“And presumably that’s a recognition reflected in these numbers that the past minimum payments probably weren’t appropriate?” royal commission chair Justice Peter McClellan asked.

“Yes,” Eastern Territory secretary for personnel, Lieutenant Colonel Christine Reid replied.

The Salvation Army was the subject of three royal commission case studies regarding child sexual abuse.

Counsel assisting Gail Furness SC said the names of eight retired officers subject to allegations during 2014 hearings had been removed from the organisation’s roll after reinvestigation.

Another officer resigned before he could be dismissed, one died during investigation and a third is being investigated by police, she said.

National commander Commissioner Floyd Tidd said the organisation approves of a Commonwealth-led redress scheme, even though it could mean the organisation has to pay more money to survivors.

He said 422 claims in the Southern Territory, which includes every state except NSW, Queensland and the ACT, were reviewed after a case study in 2015.

Of those, 73 were granted top-ups averaging $13,000.

Outside the royal commission, protestors from the Care Leavers Australasia Network, which advocates for people raised in institutions, criticised South Australian premier Jay Weatherill for indicating his government would opt out of Commonwealth redress.

The Salvation Army wrote in a statement, “The Salvation Army would like to again offer its sincerest apologies to survivors, their families and anyone who has suffered from our past failures. We are deeply sorry for the profound impact this abuse and trauma has had on their lives. We also acknowledge we have broken the trust placed in us, which we must now seek to rebuild.”

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3 Comments

  1. Leonie December 10, 2016

    Many CareLeavers will never the Starvation Army again because of the treatment they endured in their horrible horrific Homes
    They lied and denied abuse ever occurred in their Children’s Homes
    We have no trust in them !
    The public are waking up to the Salvos too
    I know many people who will never donate goods or $ as well as never walk info SalvationArmy shop again !

    Reply
  2. Rhonda Janetzki December 10, 2016

    Salvos need to confess to all forms of abuse against children stop trying to control victims they need to opt in to national Redress & start paying tax they are not charity they are money making business

    Reply
  3. James Luthy December 11, 2016

    The Salvation Army has shown a marked reluctance to tell the truth. As a witness at both the Senate Inquiry 2004, & the Royal Commission & as the person who wrote to the General in London to get the Apology I don’t feel the Salvos really tell the whole truth. As an example Major John Dalziel on 4Corners was asked by Quentin McDermott, ‘Where the homes well run or badly run?’ Answer, They were very well run despite the record of the people we’re talking about today.’ They give what are seen as politically expedient answers in order to meet needs. Remember the Leeneen Forde said they value their money and good name more than the people they hurt.

    Reply

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