The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory appearance before the Victorian Parliamentary Committee's Inquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
11 April 2013
A representative of The Salvation Army’s Southern Territory appeared today before the Victorian Parliamentary Committee’s Inquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Captain Malcolm J Roberts (Legal Secretary) said that The Salvation Army has taken action to ensure that any abuse committed could not happen again.
“The Salvation Army is ashamed of the treatment many children placed in our care in our children's homes received. This should not have happened and was a breach of the trust placed in us; we are deeply sorry.” Captain Roberts said.
“Since claims began to arise in the late 1990's, our primary focus has been to do all we can to help victims cope with the pain and suffering they endured. We have done this by listening to them and providing counselling and as appropriate, financial compensation.
“We encourage people, personally or through their lawyer, to come to us and tell their story. When a complaint arises our first instinct is to support the victim. “We complete a simple fact check to ensure that they were in one of our homes, what is known about the abuser, and a medical report. Aside from that we do not want to put the victims through an intensive investigation or adversarial process because they have already been through so much. We use our best endeavours to resolve the complaint in a caring and compassionate manner outside the court process.
“Importantly, we also encourage and actively support victims in going to the Police. Given claims are made by victims as adults, not children, it is ultimately their choice if they wish to make their abuse a Police matter. We assist in writing Police statements and in obtaining file information where possible. The Salvation Army has a policy of mandatory reporting of child abuse.
“Between 1893 and the mid 1980’s, we operated a large number of children’s homes around Australia. The Salvation Army was amongst the largest providers for children in these homes; some 30,000 to 35,000 children in Victoria alone. It is important to note that we no longer run such institutions,” Captain Roberts said.
“We have received 474 abuse claims, 470 of which arose out of children's homes. All claims were reported to us by victims as adults, not as children, and the abuse occurred many years ago. Despite all the publicity about this Inquiry and the Royal Commission, we are encouraged that we have not received any new claims in the past twelve months,”
“The Salvation Army has since altered their practices significantly to ensure the safety of children within their care.
For further information or media comment please contact:
Dr Bruce Redman – Territorial Media Relations Director
The Salvation Army – Australia Southern Territory (Vic., SA, Tas., WA & NT)
Tel: (03) 8878 2448
Mob: 0417 537 950