Sins of the Fathers by Darryl W Smith
at Nov 24, 2014 10:55:19 PM
Australian News- Royal Commission
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Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in institutions.
On 12 November 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a nationwide Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children in institutions. Royal commission into child sexual abuse- 'We want your voices to be heard'..Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the royal commission outlined today will be an opportunity for victims of child sexual abuse to be heard.. - ''It is clear from what is already in the public domain that too many children were the subject of child sexual abuse in institutions,'' she said.''And that too many adults who could have assisted them turned a blind eye so that they didn't get the help that they needed.''..
Who will the commission investigate?
It can look at any private, public or non-government organisation that has ever been involved with children, including government agencies, schools, sporting clubs, orphanages and foster care and religious organisations.
The inquiry will be expected to provide an interim report by the end of June 2014 and will wind up in December 2015.
If you would like your details passed onto the Royal Commission, leave your
email or postal address by phone on 1800 099 340 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have been affected or would like information, referrals and support please visit the links below.
www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au Answering your questions on The Royal Commission Royal Commission Legal Advisory Service FAQs
Mediation begins between Catholic Church and St Ann’s sex abuse victims seeking compensation
Out-of-court negotiations have begun to settle compensation claims over the St Ann’s Special School sexual abuse case.
A father of one of the abuse victims, Peter Mitchell, said this morning that the Catholic Church had entered talks with the victims’ families who are seeking compensation.
“We’re grateful to Archbishop (Philip) Wilson that we’re entering mediation to settle our claims,” he said.
“But we can’t provide any further comment as we don’t want to jeopardise the mediation process.”
The mediation could end 12 years of legal battles over paedophile Brian Perkins’ molestation of 36 students at St Ann’s Special School more than 20 years ago.
Between 1987 and 1991, Perkins videotaped, photographed and sexually assaulted 36 students at the Marion school, where he worked as a volunteer bus driver. He fled interstate and was not arrested for his crimes until 2002.
He was jailed a year later and has since died in custody.
Victims of the abuse have been waging a long battle for compensation since, on the grounds that the school and church failed to protect them from Perkins’ crimes.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard evidence on the abuse when it sat in Adelaide in March.
Earlier this year, Mr Mitchell launched on online petition on change.org calling on the Catholic Church to settle the compensation claims.
The petition has since attracted more than 104,000 signatures.
A Catholic Archdiocese spokeswoman said she could not specifically comment on any mediation claims, citing legalities.
“Archbishop Philip Wilson has, from the outset, acknowledged the victims’ rights to seek compensation through the civil courts and he has also demonstrated his willingness to explore avenues for resolution outside the traditional court process,” she said. “It would be inappropriate to comment on any specific case.”
"Unholy Silence" - The book that launched a Royal Commission, even before it was published - By Father Kevin Lee
Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart appears before Facing the Truth sex abuse inquiry
The Catholic Church has been more interested in protecting its reputation and fortune than caring for the victims of child sex abuse, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has admitted.
Archbishop Hart fronted the parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse for the first time in a gruelling three-hour questioning session today.
When asked about the secrecy surrounding pre-1990 abuse claims, Archbishop Hart admitted that former archbishop Frank Little had kept all allegations confidential.
"The church was too keen to look after herself and her good name, and not keen enough to address the terrible anguish of the victims," Archbishop Hart said.
But he shocked the inquiry's public gallery when he said it was "better late than never" that the church had taken 18 years to write to Rome to have a priest excommunicated after he was convicted of child molestation.
Archbishop Hart was being questioned about Father Desmond Gannon, who had his faculties to perform as a priest removed in 1993, after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced in the late 1980s. Gannon was jailed in 2009 for molesting an altar boy between 1968 and 1969.
Head of the Adult Survivors of Child Abuse group, Cathy Kezelman, said the Archbishop's comments were flippant.
"It's appalling to think that this wasn't acted upon immediately. 'Better late than never' doesn't cut it. Over 18 years children could have been at risk.
"The church should have acted the moment there were any allegations," Dr Kezelman said.
Under questioning from committee members, Archbishop Hart laid bare a culture of denial and cover-up within the church.
There were 59 priests in the Melbourne Archdiocese found to have sexually abused children.
A dozen priests had been responsible for more than half of all abuse complaints upheld by the church. Archbishop Hart admitted that crimes should have been dealt with upfront and reported to police immediately.
And he did not deny that the number of abusive priests could be much higher as no records were kept of many allegations, perpetrators were moved between dioceses and cases were covered up with "absolute confidentiality" by the late Archbishop Little.
"I understand that the community is looking for someone to take responsibility for the terrible acts that occurred. I take responsibility," he said.
"I am appalled by the actions of these criminals against the weakest and most defenceless in our community . . . I apologise unreservedly for one of the darkest periods in our church's history," said the Archbishop.
Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, will appear before the inquiry next Monday.
Herald Sun (21-5-2013)
Michelle Ainsworth/ Annika Smethurst
More about - "The Debelle Inquiry into school sex abuse"
Whistleblower's office searched: inquiry
A senior police whistleblower's office was searched while he was away on leave, an inquiry into the alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the NSW Hunter Valley will hear.
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Julia Lonergan SC, told its first hearing in Newcastle on Monday that evidence relating to Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox would be presented to the inquiry.
Ms Lonergan said evidence would show Insp Fox - whose allegations sparked the commission - pursued investigations that he kept to himself, rather than logging through official police channels.
In 2012 he was removed from any investigative role into sexual abuse in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, and later that year he had become so concerned by the "absence of any obvious investigations" that he appeared on ABC TV's Lateline program to air his claims.
Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC said in her opening remarks the diocese had a "troubled history" of sexual abuse by clergymen, and many people had been deeply affected by such "abhorrent" crimes.
Over the next fortnight Ms Cunneen will investigate the circumstances in which Insp Fox was asked to stop probing certain matters.
She will hear evidence from senior police including two assistant commissioners and two superintendents, as well as former policeman and now state Nationals MP Troy Grant.
The inquiry will concentrate on two priests - serial sex offender Father Denis McAlinden and convicted paedophile Father James Fletcher, both now dead.
In July, Commissioner Cunneen will examine the extent to which Catholic church officials cooperated with police, including whether any investigation was hindered by the failure to report criminal offences.
Three senior Catholic officials will testify - current Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson, who held senior positions in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese in the 1980s and early 90s, retired bishop of the diocese Michael Malone, and Australian Catholic Bishops Conference secretary Father Brian Lucas.
Its amended terms of reference include provisions to share information with the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse subsequently ordered by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Commissioner Cunneen is due to report to the NSW government by September 30.
More Priestly Perverts - by Derryn Hinch (1-5-2014)
Four paedophiles in same parish an accident of history, Christian Brothers tell parliamentary inquiry
A Catholic order at the centre of Victoria's child abuse inquiry says the existence of a cluster of paedophile priests in Ballarat at the same time was "an accident of history".
At least four Christian Brothers at Ballarat's St Alipius Parish School in the early 1970s were child sex offenders, as was parish priest Gerald Ridsdale.
But the order's deputy province leader Brother Julian McDonald told the parliamentary inquiry there was nothing to suggest a cultural problem.
"I have no explanation for that ... It's certainly an accident of history. Was there a culture that encouraged that? I don't believe there is evidence that there was."
The inquiry heard six brothers had been jailed, four of whom remain in the order.
Brother McDonald said a further six, none of whom now had any contact with children, had been investigated by police without conviction.
Jailed serial paedophile Brother Robert Best was still a member of the Christian Brothers and was visited regularly by other members.
"We feel obliged not to let people like Brother Best be unsupervised," Brother McDonald said.
He said the order had spent more than $1 million on Brother Best's defences of cases between 1996 and 2011.
It also spent $10,000 on a private eye in the 1990s to probe an alleged victim.
"Our primary concern has always been with the victims," he said.
He said the order had footed a $10.5 million bill to represent priests in child abuse cases, though it hadn't paid for legal help for victims.
He said the order had been alerted to only two abuse complaints against a pair of Ballarat brothers, neither of which it reported to police.
"From its perspective the committee can certainly be excused for interpreting it that way (as a cover-up)," he said, prompting laughter.
"We can find two situations in which mistakes were definitely made and I will never try to defend that. That is indefensible."
The church's compensation panel chairman David Curtain, QC, said the average payout was $50,000-$70,000. It was not the case silence had been bought, he said.
Herald Sun (3-5-2013)
Royal commission into child sex abuse: mother Marion Smith’s anguish over new claims against Frank Valentine (11-4-2014)
Abusers 'prey on disabled and vulnerable'
Disabled and vulnerable children are more likely to be targeted by sexual predators because there's less risk they will tell someone, an inquiry has heard.
A leading academic says children without strong family networks are easier for pedophiles to manipulate and access.
This means child victims are vulnerable to further abuse, University of Sydney Associate Professor Judith Cashmore says.
"Unfortunately the children who are most vulnerable are those with disabilities and those who have already been abused and neglected and removed from their homes," Prof Cashmore told the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations on Friday.
She said studies involving interviews with offenders about how they selected victims showed they were very strategic.
"They look for children where they're less likely to be believed.
"It's no accident that the sort of circumstances in which children are abused are those where people are standing in as parents - because they have unsupervised access."
Statistics show girls are more likely to be abused than boys but they are also more likely to report abuse, the inquiry heard.
In an institutional setting, boys are more frequently victims.
In instances of clergy abuse, boys account for approximately three-quarters to 80 per cent of victims.
Under these circumstances the abuse was more likely to be violently sexual and involve multiple perpetrators, Prof Cashmore said.
The victims of clergy are also likely to be older children approaching adolescence.
"It really has a dramatic impact on their sexuality," Prof Cashmore said.
It also inhibits reporting because men fear being labelled a possible perpetrator in the future.
The sense of shame and guilt was one of the long-term impacts outlined by Prof Cashmore in her submission to the inquiry.
Anxiety and depression, feelings of helplessness, vulnerability, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress, suicide and difficulty forming adult relationships are some of the things abuse victims have to deal with.
The high levels of stress may be linked to more serious life-long health problems such as chronic back pain, heart disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Despite this, Prof Cashmore said with support and understanding there was hope for recovery.
"Not everyone who's sexually abused is going to suffer irreparable harm," she said.
"A lot of people can recover."
'Ashamed' Salvation Army paid $15m to child sex abuse victims, inquiry told
The Salvation Army has told a Victorian sex abuse inquiry it is ashamed of the treatment of children that occurred in its homes, as it revealed it has paid out more than $15 million to victims and that 50 Salvation Army officers had been named as abusers.
In a statement to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry, Salvation Army legal secretary Malcolm Roberts said, "The Salvation Army is ashamed of the treatment many children placed in our care in children's homes received.
"This should not have happened and this was a breach of the trust that was placed in us.
We are deeply sorry.
"We are ashamed and deeply regret what occurred all those years ago and for those who were abused and whose lives have been so damaged I sincerely apologise on behalf of the Salvation Army."
He said that since compensation claims began to arise in the late 1990s, the Salvation Army had received 474 abuse claims, 470 of which arose out of children's homes, the last of which was closed in the 1980s.
He said the Salvation Army had so far paid out $15.5 million and had an annual budget of $4 million for abuse compensation.
Under intense questioning, Captain Roberts said the Salvation Army had not conducted an investigation into allegations of systemic abuse at homes including the Box Hill and Bayswater boys homes and the East Camberwell girls home, in Melbourne's east, even after a judge found there was a "nest of pedophiles" at Bayswater, who would abuse boys at the home and take them away from the home to abuse and torture them.
He said the Salvation Army would conduct such an investigation if directed by the inquiry, but said, "The difficulty of this situation is that so many of these people are dead."
Captain Roberts revealed that 50 Salvation Army officers had been "named" in allegations of abuse.
Of those 50, he said, 37 were deceased, three or four were in jail and two were still active officers, against whom nothing had been proved.
He said he had seen a service card for one officer who was put on "sick leave" and then transferred away from children's homes after confessing in March 1950 to the sexual abuse of four boys at Box Hill and Bayswater. He said he knew the officer was never assigned to a children's home again, but did not know whether he was reported to police.
Captain Roberts said the Salvation Army was endeavouring to respond to abuse claims in a "caring and compassionate manner", but angered victims at the hearing when he said he did not believe there was a pedophile ring at Bayswater and that he did not believe the Salvation Army hierarchy knew of the abuse.
Outside the inquiry, Alf Stirling, 72, and Brian Cherrie, 60, who have been compensated for the abuse they suffered at Bayswater and Box Hill homes, condemned the Salvation Army for not investigating the suffering that occurred in its homes.
The Salvation Army made a formal apology for the abuse of children in its care up to the 1990s in Canberra in 2010, in which they acknowledged the "rigid, harsh and authoritarian" environment inside many of its homes.
The Australian (11-4-2013)
"MAKO/Files Within the Church"
The 'MAKO/ Files Online WTC' - Listing Australian sex offenders/ paedophiles/ Child Killers who have offended within religious circles.
Abuser priest led Catholic Church insurance scheme
The Catholic Church has admitted that a priest who for 20 years oversaw its insurance scheme, which covers claims for sex abuse by clergy, was himself a serial abuser.
The Melbourne archdiocese says it received and upheld three complaints about Monsignor Penn Jones after his death in 1995.
It comes as the federal royal commission into child abuse has taken legal action to retrieve documents from the church and its insurer to assist with its inquiries.
The complaints against Msgr Jones included that he abused at least three young boys at summer camps in the 1960s, touching them in showers and raping at least one.
Msgr Jones was the school chaplain at Cathedral College in the '60s, and had regular contact with choirboys when he was based at St Patrick's Cathedral.
The Herald Sun has confirmed that Msgr Jones served as director, then chairman, of Catholic Church Insurance from 1971 to 1992. The Melbourne archdiocese says it first learned Msgr Jones had been a paedophile in 2004, nine years after he died.
"Had there been knowledge of his abuse at the time of these appointments, they would not have been made," CCI chief executive Peter Rush told the Herald Sun.
CCI collects premiums from the church's individual orders and dioceses and covers them for various claims, including sexual abuse by clergy.
According to those with knowledge of the process, CCI helps decide how much claimants should be paid.
Its representatives have been known to attend settlement discussions, but Mr Rush said Msgr Jones's CCI positions "did not require him" to have contact with sex abuse victims or have any say in the size of their payouts.
"These were decisions for management, applying the terms of insurance policies then in place," Mr Rush explained.
Msgr Jones also held senior positions with the church's property trust and other church entities.
Msgr Jones had been elected to the CCI board because he was seen as a "skilled and experienced" accountant, Mr Rush said.
Msgr Jones remained a priest with the Melbourne archdiocese while holding positions with CCI, Mr Rush said.
The church has faced sustained criticism for its handling of sex abuse claims stretching back decades.
Herald Sun (8-4-2013)
Survivor claims boys disappeared - http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2013/02/06/358672_news.html
Church must end the silence on child abuse
Child safety commissioner Bernie Geary has called for changes to Victorian law to force priests to report sex offenders to police, even if they learn of crimes at confession.
Mr Geary told a parliamentary inquiry into child abuse he would lobby the State Government to make all church staff legally bound to report sex crimes or face stiff penalties.
He said criminal law must be "strengthened" to incorporate mandatory reporting to police by religious groups where there is reasonable suspicion of child abuse.
"Churches should not be exempted from this obligation, regardless of where or how this knowledge of abuse is gained," he said.
Mr Geary said he was willing to work with religious groups to change centuries-old traditions to protect children from harm.
But the Catholic Church, in its submission to the inquiry, opposed the move, arguing it would see priests "violate the sacramental seal of confession".
But a project manager for the Commission for Children and Young People, Megan Scannell, said children's interests should be the paramount consideration, saying, "It's just very difficult to imagine how one could say that you could be aware that this is going on on a regular basis inside your organisation and do nothing to stop it."
Mr Geary said all religious staff, not just those who had regular unsupervised contact with children, should have working with children checks.
Further change was needed to the Working with Children Act to close an exemption allowing some parents to work with children in areas such as sports coaching without proper scrutiny.
And he called for an expansion of powers for Justice Department workers to conduct spot checks to ensure organisations complied with child protection regulations.
Child Wise counsellor Adrian Campion backed long-term change in reporting conditions for the church but acknowledged that to "infringe on religious freedom" was controversial.
Herald Sun (5-4-2013)
Clergy still groom for sex, inquiry told
Clergy are grooming children of "particularly devout" families for abuse believing they won't report it, or if they do that their parents won't believe them, a state parliamentary inquiry has heard.
The inquiry into child sexual abuse was told clergy continued to prey on children, brainwashing them into the belief they are "unloved by God" and will incur the "wrath of God" if they report sexual abuse.
Professor Caroline Taylor, who has worked with victims and police in Victoria and overseas to prosecute paedophile clergy, told the Melbourne hearing cases were particularly evident in small rural areas.
"One of the reasons they target particularly devout families is they felt it would offer protection from either a child disclosing or a child not being believed if they disclosed," she said.
Prof Taylor said she had seen cases of clergy using positions of trust to prey on vulnerable children, and churches weren't doing enough to stop it nor showing sufficient leadership to bring to justice to those responsible.
"Offenders are still grooming children at an alarming rate and some of that, I'm sure, would be occurring in the church," she said.
"I don't see why it would have suddenly stopped miraculously overnight.
"I think that also offenders are very clever people and they move with the times ... using technology and interests that children have, and still finding vulnerabilities that children have or families have."
In an emotional parliamentary hearing:
CALLS were made for tougher Victorian legislation to catch and convict child sex offenders;
IT was revealed children aged 9-13 were most likely to report sexual abuse in a bid to protect other children from suffering the same fate;
EXPERTS urged police, judges and the public to become better educated and more aware of paedophiles grooming children for sex.
Herald Sun (4-4-2013)
Long haul as 5000 line up to reveal tales of heartache to royal commission
AT least 5000 people could tell their traumatic stories to the royal commission into child sex abuse.
And the commission says the reputations of individuals or institutions will not be spared if naming and shaming was justified.
Justice Peter McClellan, the chair of the six commissioners, said they would not hesitate to air allegations if they felt they were justified - but they would allow those people or institutions to be represented by lawyers.
It was also revealed yesterday that the commission would look at the sentences handed down in the courts for child predators.
The commission has already begun exercising its wide powers to uncover child sexual abuse and the response of institutions to it.
Justice McClellan said orders to produce documents have been served on the Catholic Church and the Salvation Army and the DPP in New South Wales.
Counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, SC, reiterated that the commission was neither a court nor a prosecutor.
"It will not make findings that a named individual was sexually abused by a named person within an institution," she said.
"It will, however, in appropriate cases, and after according procedural fairness, make findings about the conduct of institutions and individuals within those institutions in responding to allegations of child sexual abuse."
Motel function rooms in regional towns will be used for child sex abuse victims to reveal their darkest and most painful secrets.
The commission will spread its net wide to cover more than the Catholic Church and other religious institutions.
Offences may have happened when victims were Scouts, Girl Guides, orphans, at kindy or at swimming, netball or little athletics.
The six commissioners and staff are bracing themselves for the job of listening to harrowing accounts, many of which will be spoken about for the first time because there has been no one to listen.
"The commissioners accept that on behalf of the nation they have been asked to bear witness to the past experiences of those who have suffered child sexual abuse in institutions," Justice McClellan said.
"We have been told that many of the accounts we receive will contain serious and often shocking allegations."
The commission, established late last year by the Federal Government, yesterday declared itself officially open for business with a brief hearing in Melbourne.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson said the commission was starting to understand the depth of its task.
The Daily Telegraph (4-4-2013)
Answering your questions on The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
Late last year, a NSW police officer made shocking allegations about child-sex abuse and cover-ups within the Catholic Church and the police force.
That started a snowball effect, a rallying cry for a federal Royal Commission to investigate institutional sex abuse once and for all.
Within days, Prime Minister Julia Gillard ordered that such a commission be established to investigate child-sex offenders and those who protected them, and those who "averted their eyes" to what was going on.
Now The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has held its first hearing in Melbourne.
The original whistleblower, Detective Inspector Peter Fox, meanwhile, has found out he will not be afforded protection. But he warmly welcomed the start of the commission, saying he was "absolutely delighted" that the day had finally come.
"A lot of people have been waiting so long for something like this to happen," he said.
What's the commission for?
There have been state-based investigations into child-sex abuse in the past, such as South Australia's Children in State Care Inquiry, but this will be the first federal royal commission into institutional child-sex abuse.
The board for the Royal Commission: Bob Atkinson, Prof Helen Milroy, Justice Peter McClellan AM, Justice Jennifer Coate, Robert Fitzgerald and Andrew Murray.
It will "inquire into how institutions with a responsibility for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child-sexual abuse", according to its website.
Who will the commission investigate? It's not just the Catholic Church in the spotlight, although it was allegations about it that prompted the commission in the first place. After accusations that it would be a "witch hunt", the scope was broadened to include a range of institutions.
It can look at any private, public or non-government organisation that has ever been involved with children, including government agencies, schools, sporting clubs, orphanages and foster care and religious organisations.
'You have the records of our abuse'
Ms Gillard said she was "very clear that this was about institutional child-sexual abuse".
"Of course, there are some matters in the Catholic Church that will, therefore, be the subject of inquiry, but it's not focused on the Catholic Church," she said yesterday. "(We) haven't said this is about one body, one church, one entity; it is about institutional child-sexual abuse."
The Catholic Church, the Salvation Army and the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions have already been asked to provide documents.
Who will the commission hear from?
More than 5000 people are ready to tell the commission their stories, others have registered their interest, and even more are expected to want to participate once the investigations begin. It will hear from victims and the families of victims as well as people from the institutions.
How will people tell their stories?
More details will be available on the royal commission's website once evidence begins to be heard.
The Government has also established a free national legal advisory service to advise people on how to prepare submissions. Two lawyers, Gail Furness and Melinda Richards, will be counsel assisting the commission.
'Run commission as long as it's needed'
Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has also formed a Truth Justice and Healing Council which will oversee its engagement with the royal commission. Council chief executive Francis Sullivan said they were "determined that the truth be told and that the church assists victims, and those damaged by abuse as children receive justice to embark on a sustainable process of healing".
"This council will guide the church as it goes through the royal commission, and will approach the task with openness and compassion," Mr Sullivan said.
"We accept that the royal commission may well reveal embarrassing and shameful episodes from our past but it is necessary in order for the truth to heal and for the community to see that our engagement is genuine and sincere."
What will happen?
The National Association of Community Legal Centres will advise people on their civil and criminal options and will help them prepare submissions and tell their stories. Hearings can be public or private.
The commission will travel around Australia and there will be a hotline open 12 hours a day to hear from people. Trained counsellors will be available.
The royal commission will have an investigations unit and will be able to refer people to police for prosecution. It will also "bear witness" to the trauma suffered by victims and assist with healing and inform reforms to institutions.
The commission will not determine whether people are entitled to compensation.
How long will it take?
Commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan has warned they will already struggle to meet their deadlines because of the immense interest.
"It is unlikely that the commission can complete its work within the time frame for the delivery of the final report," he said.
The final reporting date was initially set for the end of 2015 but this is subject to the interim report due halfway through next year.
Justice McClellan has already warned that the commission will only have a chance to report on six institutions by then.
Abuse victims, many of whom have waited decades to tell their stories, have been asked to be patient through the lengthy process - but the commission has said it will not put a time limit on when people can get in touch.
For more information, see childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au, or call 1800 099 340.
All abusers must be punished: victims
An abuse victims advocate says nobody should be spared punishment for crimes against children, be they a charity, church, government or a 99-year-old individual.
On the first day of the royal commission into child sex abuse, Leonie Sheedy of the Care Leavers of Australia Network fought back tears as she called for the royal commission to "get it right".
She described the abuse of children in care as "Australia's grubbiest little secret", and said she wanted justice for victims.
"I want to see people who have sexually used children ... be made accountable," Ms Sheedy said.
"I don't care how old they are. I think if you're 99 and you're still alive you should face the full force of the courts of this country, you should be sentenced to appropriate sentences.
"I want to see the churches and charities and every state government held accountable for the criminal acts that were committed against us."
Ms Sheedy spent 13 years of her childhood in orphanages.
"Our families don't understand why we are the way we are," she said, her voice cracking.
She said before the royal commission, victims had felt invisible.
"We've never been listened to and we weren't believed," she said.
She said people had lived a long time with the trauma of abuse at the bottom of their hearts and victims could afford to wait a little bit longer for the commission to do its investigation correctly.
"This is our one opportunity to get it right and if it takes a long time, then so be it."
Cardinal Pell to give evidence at child abuse inquiry as Catholic Church plans changes
Cardinal Pell introduced Melbourne's controversial complaints handling system when he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
Cardinal George Pell will appear at the Victorian inquiry into child abuse within weeks, as the Catholic Church proposes a new system for handling abuse complaints.
Cardinal Pell introduced Melbourne's controversial complaints handling system when he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s. The church confirmed Cardinal Pell would appear before the panel in coming weeks.
"The committee has indicated some interest in Cardinal Pell attending and he's certainly willing to co-operate with that," church spokesman Shane Mackinlay said.
Church figures will propose changes to its complaints process, which has attracted criticism for keeping abuse allegations in-house and making victims feel that they could not report their abuse to police.
In Victoria, the Catholic Church will propose having the Ombudsman review its abuse investigations. And it will suggest changing the Crimes Act so that the church can routinely report abuse complaints to police without identifying victims.
Complaints made during confession would not be reported to police under the proposal.
Senior police have criticised the church for failing to report the criminal activities of clergy -- some of whom were serial offenders.
Peter O'Callaghan QC, the lawyer paid by the church to investigate child sex-abuse complaints, will give evidence to the inquiry.
Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart and bishops from various dioceses and religious orders, including the Salesians and the Christian Brothers, are also expected to attend.
Mr Mackinlay said the church had given the Victorian inquiry "unfettered" access to files with details of more than 600 child sex abuse complaints upheld by its internal process, called the Melbourne Response.
Herald Sun (1-4-2013)
Pell chosen as pope's adviser (13-4-2013)
Pell's threat to sue Twitter highlights law's use-by date (9-5-2012)
Six commissioners to run inquiry into 'hideous' child sexual abuse
Julia Gillard says six "very eminent" Australians conducting the royal commission into child sexual abuse will ensure victims will no longer be ignored.
Julia Gillard today announced the terms of reference for the inquiry, to be led by senior NSW judge Peter McClellan, and which will be expected to provide an interim report by the end of June 2014. It is scheduled to wind up in December 2015.
As well as the appointment of six royal commissioners, the inquiry will include a special unit to investigate cases of sexual assault and organisational cover-up to ensure the inquiry does not get bogged down by thousands of individual claims.
Ms Gillard said the nation needed the royal commission because child sexual abuse in institutions was a “hideous, shocking and vile crime” and victims needed to be heard.
“It is clear from what is already in the public domain that too many children were the subject of child sexual abuse in institutions,” the Prime Minister said.
“And that too many adults who could have assisted them turned a blind eye so that they didn't get the help that they needed.”
Ms Gillard said the royal commission would focus only on child sex abuse in institutional contexts.
“It will not deal with child sexual abuse in the family, it will also not deal with abuse of children which is not associated with child sexual abuse.”
As well as the Justice McClellan, who is chief judge at common law of the NSW Supreme Court, the royal commissioners are former Queensland police commissioner Bob Atkinson, Family Court judge Jennifer Coate, Productivity Commission commissioner Robert Fitzgerald, academic Professor Helen Milroy and former Australian Democrats senator Andrew Murray.
“(Mr Atkinson) brings over 40 years of policing experience to the royal commission, including 12 years as Police Commissioner,” Ms Gillard said.
“Justice Jennifer Coate served for 20 years as a magistrate and county court judge in Victoria, including for five years as the President of the Children's Court.
“(Mr Fitzgerald) has experience in commerce, law, public policy and community services, including as Community and Disability Services Commissioner and Deputy Ombudsman in New South Wales.”
Ms Gillard said Ms Milroy would provide extensive experience in child and adolescent health, including the mental health impacts of child sexual assault.
“Andrew Murray brings tremendous experience as a legislator and member of landmark Senate inquiries into children's experiences in institutional care,” she added.
Ms Gillard said the way in which evidence was collected and when and where hearings would be held would be determined by the commissioners.
She expected there would be arrangements for the collection of evidence from people who had lived in Australia as children but had since moved overseas.
“I would anticipate they would put in place mechanisms so people can tell their story no matter where they are,” Ms Gillard said.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the government planned to introduce legislation into parliament when it resumed in February to allow for the six commissioners to hear evidence separately.
Under existing laws, all commissioners would have to be present to hear evidence.
“We expect very large numbers of people who want to give evidence, to present evidence to the commission and obviously we don't expect all evidence to be presented to every one of the six commissioners,” Ms Roxon said.
“We have spoken to the opposition about this change and we do hope to have the enthusiastic support of the parliament.”
Ms Gillard said the inquiry would send a clear message to child sexual abuse survivors.
“For too many, the trauma of that abuse has been compounded by the sense that they had, that their nation doesn't understand or doesn't care about what they've suffered.
“To those survivors of child sex abuse, today we are able to say we want your voice to be heard, even if you've felt for all of your life that no one's listened to you, that no one has taken you seriously, that no one has really cared.”
Ms Roxon conceded the commission would “require significant resources”.
“We will need significant resources to establish this commission as a whole, you can clearly see by the appointment of six commissioners it will be a far-reaching inquiry,” she said.
“The way the resources are divided between legal assistance and support, for research teams for the commissioner will be a matter for the commission.”
Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin said funding would be made available to organisations that abuse survivors “know and trust” but would not elaborate on how much or whether any of it would be new funding.
“We are working through funding arrangements right now, we realise there will be increased demands on organisations who have been advocates and supporters of child sexual abuse survivors.”
Ms Gillard said other procedural issues, notably whether the royal commission will compel Catholic priests to break the “inviolable seal of confession” or whether previously signed confidentiality agreements will be a concern, will be a “matter for the commission itself”.
Child protection advocacy group Bravehearts said it was thrilled about the terms of reference for the royal commission.
“We couldn't be happier, we're absolutely ecstatic,” said Bravehearts director Hetty Johnston, as she welcomed the inclusion of the group's submission in the terms of reference.
“It's absolutely everything we hoped it would be, we're absolutely thrilled with the outcome.”
Senior Catholic figures say they are “ready and willing” to assist with the royal commission.
The six royal commissioners have yet to determine a list of witnesses but the chief executive of the Catholic church's newly-formed Truth, Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, says the church is committed to “fully cooperate and engage” with the commission.
NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith said Justice McClellan was an “excellent choice” to head the inquiry.
“His extensive experience appearing in and running complex inquiries, his ability for hard work and his compassion make him an ideal candidate,” Mr Smith said.
“I am confident he will give all parties a full and fair hearing and guide the commission well.”
The Australian (11-1-2013)
Allegations church kept priest sex files
The psychosexual profiles of priests accused of sexual abuse have reportedly been kept by the Australian Catholic church.
The profiles were allegedly created as part of a church rehabilitation program - Encompass Australasia - which ran from 1997 to 2008 at Sydney's Wesley Private Hospital, Fairfax newspapers reported on Saturday.
The program reportedly treated male clergy for psychosexual disorders and created profiles on them.
According to Fairfax, it is believed none of the clergy treated under the program were referred to police for investigation despite senior church figures being aware of serious allegations against them.
A NSW Police spokeswoman told Fairfax the force had received some abuse information from the church; however, no record of referrals from the program could be found.
Sources familiar with the program reportedly told Fairfax newspapers clergy involved were "transitioned" out of the church, receiving generous payouts, accommodation and tertiary education.
"There were some outrageous situations that would have been very embarrassing for the church had they become public," a source told Fairfax.
The claims come on the heels of this week's announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard of a royal commission into the abuse of children in religious and state-run institutions.
Brothers 'pack raped' boys
Two boys 'disappeared', seven later committed suicide
A group of 15 religious brothers led by an "alpha paedophile" is suspected of the unreported deaths of two boys and the sexual abuse of more than 40 others.
The victims – abused over three decades – include wards of the state cared for by the brothers in homes for the mentally impaired, a state parliamentary inquiry into child abuse is expected to be told. Seven are believed to have committed suicide.
The suspected paedophile brothers from the Hospitaller Order of St John of God have never been charged in Victoria because of a lack of police resources, says the submission’s author, Dr Wayne Chamley, a researcher for Broken Rites, the support group for church sex abuse victims.
While most of the suspected paedophiles are dead, Fairfax Media is aware of three who have left the Catholic order and moved away but are in roles where they could have access to children.
The allegations relate to the order’s operations at Cheltenham and Lilydale, where it provided homes for wards of the state, orphans, boys given up by their parents and those with intellectual disabilities from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The order paid out more than $3.6 million in 2002 to 24 men who had alleged they were abused as children by brothers from the order.
Victorian police at the time confirmed they had launched an investigation into the allegations and taken statements from a number of alleged victims, and that the Director of Public Prosecutions was to decide on any charges to be laid.
But Dr Chamley and victims have confirmed to Fairfax that none of the 15 suspected paedophile brothers has ever been charged in Victoria.
Dr Chamley will give details of alleged horrific abuse at the order’s homes, including claims that boys were subjected to pack rapes and beatings and being drugged.
He will allege that two boys were sent to a mental institution by the "alpha paedophile" brother and given electroshock therapy, which impaired one so badly he was unable to care for himself and later died.
Dr Chamley will also mention research indicating that seven of a group of 69 boys who went to the order’s homes had committed suicide.
His most serious allegation will be that two boys might have been killed – and their deaths not reported – at the order’s farm at Lilydale.
Speaking on Thursday, Dr Chamley said there were witnesses to the alleged suspicious deaths, which occurred in the early 1960s. He said three men who spent time at the Lilydale home had independently told him of an incident in which a boy was thrown down stairs.
"That boy was taken off to the infirmary [unconscious] and never seen again," said Dr Chamley.
He said the three witnesses were still alive and could be contacted by police.
He said the second alleged death was reported by a former resident of one of the homes who said he had found a boy dead in the bed next to him.
‘‘He spoke about waking up and finding this fellow beside him dead. This fellow had recently arrived in the place,’’ said Dr Chamley. He said the witness to this incident was still alive and had been severely traumatised by his stay in the home.
Dr Chamley said the main victims of the brothers at Cheltenham were boys who never received any visitors and were quartered in upstairs dormitories away from the boys who did receive visits.
''They speak of being given a red medicine that made them drowsy. Pack rapes took place and boys who resisted or attempted to fight off their attackers were beaten mercilessly. These were boys of seven to 15 years up against adult males,'' he said.
Dr Chamley said the alleged paedophiles would become hyperactive after taking the boys to football matches.
''At the football matches the boys were provided with beer and encouraged to drink with the accompanying brothers,'' he said.
''After these occasions the paedophiles would become hyperactive and overt. The evening meal was followed by buggery and pack rapes and the remainder of Saturday night spent by many boys crying and in fear. And then Mass on Sunday morning.''
Dr Chamley will give his submission - which has been posted online - to the inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations on Friday. He is a retired endocrinologist who works as a volunteer for Broken Rites, for which he conducted research on the St John of God order and assisted in negotiating settlements for abuse victims.
The order's spokesman said the Australian provincial, Brother Timothy Graham, was in Portugal and was unable to be contacted for comment. He said the order would appear at the parliamentary inquiry if requested.
The spokesman said the order had first become aware in 1997 that there had been sexual abuse at its facilities in Victoria.
''The order was proactive and immediately opened internal and police inquiries. This culminated in a multimillion-dollar mediated settlement which was ratified by the Supreme Court of Victoria in June 2002, at which time Victoria Police also referred the matters to the DPP,'' he said.
Several St John of God brothers have served prison time in New Zealand for assaults on boys in homes there.
Victoria Police on Thursday declined to explain why no one was charged over the allegations. A spokeswoman said police had made a submission to the inquiry and ''any further comment at this stage may prejudice those proceedings''.
"Victoria Police will await the findings and recommendations of the inquiry before making any further comment,'' she said.
For help or information visit beyondblue.org.au, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251, or Lifeline on 131 114.
Catholic order had 'pedophile ring' in Vic
A pedophile ring within a Catholic religious order in Victoria subjected boys as young as seven to pack rapes and severe beatings and covered up two killings, a victims' advocate claims.
Wayne Chamley, a researcher with victims' group Broken Rites, alleges The Hospitaller Order of St John of God, which operated two institutions in Victoria from 1952 to 1986, harboured up to 15 pedophiles who subjected orphans, state wards and intellectually disabled boys to sexual and physical abuse.
Two boys may have died as a result of severe beatings, and one of them had been thrown down a staircase, according to witness statements by former inmates received by Broken Rites.
Dr Chamley told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into clergy sex abuse on Friday that two boys who had been subjected to continual sexual and physical abuse were incarcerated in a mental asylum after they managed to escape the home.
He said orphans and boys who did not receive visitors were separated from boys who were visited by family.
"They speak about being given a red medicine that made them drowsy. Pack rapes took place and boys who resisted or attempted to fight off their attackers were beaten mercilessly," Dr Chamley told the inquiry in his submission.
"These were boys of seven to 15 years, up against adult males.
"This is a story about widespread sexual abuse, severe and unwarranted physical abuse, exploitation and unpaid child labour, starvation of boys, drugging of boys, provision of alcohol to juveniles and situations where intoxicated brothers were in charge of boys."
He said St John of God operated a not-for-profit company which was currently providing accommodation and respite services for the Victorian government, from which it received public funding.
"How can the Victorian government, through the Department of Human Services, be putting up services contracts to an organisation like St John of God, given their record? I suspect there's something going on," Dr Chamley told the inquiry.
He slammed the Salvation Army and Catholic Church, labelling their submissions to the inquiry "safe and convenient" and insulting.
He said it was unbelievable that compensation schemes such as the Melbourne Response, a process adopted by the Catholic Church in which victims of clergy abuse can seek compensation from the church rather than go to police, were allowed.
"I can't believe that it's even allowed to operate," said Dr Chamley.
"Under what legal authority can clergymen set up a quasi-legal star chamber of their own?"
Dr Chamley said he had been in mediation sessions where the church's lawyer, Peter O'Callaghan QC, told victims he had the power of a royal commissioner.
"That is his mindset, that he has the powers of a royal commissioner, and these victims believe that."
He said the plan of attack by church lawyers during mediation sessions was to "king-hit the victim and soften him up".
The Family and Community Development Committee are inquiring into child sex abuse within religious and non-government organisations.
On Friday, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced a special commission of inquiry to probe allegations by a senior police investigator into child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy in the NSW Hunter region.
Sins of Brothers demand inquiry
Christian Brother Robert Best, now due to serve out 14 years and nine months in jail, didn't tell us anything about his crimes. From the harrowing statements of those he attacked, however, we know much about the destruction he brought to their lives.
Paedophiles insinuate themselves into environments where they have access to children. The innocence of children, possessed with no intellectual framework within which to understand - let alone explain or report deviously plotted attacks - further minimises any chance of apprehension. We know this means that paedophiles continue unchecked, working from victim to victim with impunity, sometimes targeting children in the same family.
Most of the convictions recorded against Best in this recent trial have been for what we might call relatively minor acts of indecent assault - the simple ''touch up''. It is clear that Best targeted students he found in vulnerable situations - one had a broken collarbone, others were injured on the football field or complained of feeling ill.
He touched them looking for signs of complicity that he might use as an introduction to a more involved sexual encounter. Evidence given during the plea hearing included troubling details of group sexual encounters that Best arranged involving more than one student.
While Best is saying nothing about his crimes, even going so far as to indicate to a psychologist who assessed him that the accusations must be a matter of mistaken identity, it is not difficult to reason that Best's victims may number in the hundreds.
It is a simple truth that other paedophiles at Ballarat's St Alipius school, where Best was the principal, were involved as co-conspirators and offenders in their own right.
St Alipius has the tragic distinction of possessing a teaching staff that included convicted paedophile Brother Edward Dowlan, convicted paedophile Brother Stephen Francis Farrell, and, as school chaplain, convicted paedophile Father Gerald Ridsdale. One victim reports that he confided in his class teacher that Best had raped him. The teacher, also a Christian Brother, forcibly and repeatedly struck the grade 3 child until he retracted the statement.
We know also that, on one occasion, Best was interrupted by another Christian Brother, who, in a gross act of indifference, simply smiled and closed the door. St Alipius was not the only hotspot of paedophilic trouble for the Christian Brothers.
There have been allegations of sexual abuse made by former state wards of the St Augustine's Boys Home in Geelong and the St Vincent's Boys Home in South Melbourne, both run by the Christian Brothers. The police have received reports of sexual abuse in relation to Christian Brothers Donald Pascal Alford, Wilfred Eastmure, William Thomas McGee and Julian Hackett - all of whom had responsibility for the care of adolescent boys in orphanages. These Brothers died before the complaints could be the subject of investigations by the police. Many of these cases have been, or are currently, the subject of civil claims for damages.
But the scars remain because children, suffering attacks such as these from persons in positions of trust and authority over them, are usually left to deal with the burning sense of trauma and frightened bewilderment on their own. Most often attempts are made to bury the memories, but, sadly, the nightmare re-emerges later in life once coping mechanisms fail.
Statements of impact from victims and studies into the psychology of those affected tell a story of catastrophic psychological destabilisation. Many of Best's recent victims said that, during his attacks, they thought they were going to die. They reported experiencing the sort of trauma a soldier might experience in a house-to-house firefight in Iraq, but, here, all we have is an eight-year-old child confronting the fear of dying in the back corner of a classroom his parents told him he would be safe in.
A bipartisan state-led inquiry into criminal activities of various Christian Brothers, the response of the Christian Brothers as an organisation, and the complaints and reporting procedures adopted by them and the broader church is warranted and long overdue.
An inquiry would not only help the families of boys who have since killed themselves (police estimate suicides at somewhere close to 30) come to terms with the suffering of their loved ones, but it may also help more victims still suffering in silence to come forward for treatment. It may also help us as a community to ensure that concentrations of abuse, and organisational conspiracies of silence, no longer blight our young or vulnerable.
Dr Vivian Waller is a lawyer representing victims of
Robert Best and other Christian Brothers, one of whom contributed to this piece.
"Brother Thomas Grealy"
Former Primary School Principal and convicted paedophile who raped a 10-year-old boy.
After four years in jail, his Catholic brethren welcomed him back, keeping his title, housing and financial support...
Child rapist still a Patrician brother
Broken Rites Australia
Fighting church sexual abuse since 1993
CLAN - Care Leavers Australia Network
A network for people who grew up in Australia's orphanages, children's homes and in foster care
"SA child sex inquiry to get extra powers" (10-12-2012)
Royal commission powers have been given to a retired judge investigating a child-sex abuse case at an Adelaide primary school that was kept secret from parents for almost two years.
"Lawyers accuse Pell of meddling in abuse inquiry" (24-11-2012)
"In our interactions with the now Cardinal Archbishop Pell, we experienced a sociopathic lack of empathy, typifying the attitude and responses of the church hierarchy," he said.
"Child abuse inquiry will take time: govt" (18-11-2012)
Federal cabinet minister Mark Butler says a planned national royal commission on child sex abuse may be a combined effort between state and federal governments.
"Confess truth or run risk of jail, priests warned" (14-11-2012)
Priests and clergy who refuse to break the seal of confessional before the Royal Commission face being jailed for six months.
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