– Children in four Salvation Army-run boys’ homes in NSW and Queensland were beaten until they bled, locked in a cage and raped by staff, the commission has heard, as well as being sent to other adults’ homes to be abused.
Revelations of widespread and brutal child sexual abuse at Salvation Army-run homes across Australia have brought “a great deal of disgrace and shame” to the church organisation, one of its senior officers says.
Giving evidence this morning to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Major Peter Farthing said the army had not yet formally investigated how this abuse was able to take place.
Children in four Salvation Army-run boys’ homes in NSW and Queensland were beaten until they bled, locked in a cage and raped by staff, the commission has heard, as well as being sent to other adults’ homes to be abused.
“This hearing, I think it’s brought a great deal of disgrace and shame to the Salvation Army, which is felt by all our people,” said Major Farthing, who, as the organisation’s former personnel officer, dealt with many of these allegations of abuse.
When the first such victims began to come forward during the 1990s, Major Farthing said, the organisation’s response “on legal advice … was we will be compassionate, but we would not admit wrong. So we won’t say sorry.”
This attitude had since changed as the army underwent a “generational shift”, he told the commission, with alleged victims now receiving more financial and other support.
Under questioning by the commission chair, Peter McClellan, Major Farthing said the Salvation Army had held no formal inquiry into how the alleged abuse was able to take place.
“I’m sure you appreciate but asking and answering the ‘Why?’ question goes a long way to understanding what should and should not happen in the future,” Justice McClellan said.
“Yes, it’s true, we haven’t done that in that formal way,” Major Farthing replied.
“We’ll be looking for the Salvation Army to help us with that question,” Justice McClellan said