Showing posts sorted by relevance for query abuse. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query abuse. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, 19 June 2017

Australian Law Reform Commission recommends a National Plan to combat elder abuse

"4.40 Stakeholders reported many instances of abuse of people receiving aged care. These included reports of abuse by paid care workers and other residents of care homes, as well as by family members and/or appointed decision makers of care recipients. For example, Alzheimer’s Australia provided the following examples of physical and emotional abuse:
When working as a PCA [personal care assistant] in 2 high care units, I witnessed multiple, daily examples of residents who were unable to communicate being abused including: PCA telling resident to ‘die you f—ing old bitch!’ because she resisted being bed bathed. Hoist lifting was always done by one PCA on their own not 2 as per guidelines and time pressures meant PCAs often using considerable physical force to get resistive people into hoists; resident not secured in hoist dropped through and broke arm—died soon after; residents being slapped, forcibly restrained and force-fed or not fed at all; resident with no relatives never moved out of bed, frequently left alone for hours without attention; residents belongings being stolen and food brought in by relatives eaten by PCAs."
[Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 131), p.110]

In 2016 people 65 years of age and over comprised 15.3 per cent of the Australian population. This represents over 3.5 million older people, a figure the Australian Bureau of Statistics expects to grow to  9.6 million people by 2064.

The Turnbull Government needs to consider the recently published Australian Law Reform Commission report and act on its recommendations.

Australian Law Reform Commission, media release, 15 June 2017:
Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is delighted to be launching its Report, Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 131), on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2017.

The ALRC was asked to consider Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks and how they might better protect older persons from misuse or abuse, and safeguard their autonomy.

The Report includes 43 recommendations for law reform. The overall effect will be to safeguard older people from abuse and support their choices and wishes through:

* improved responses to elder abuse in residential aged care;
* enhanced employment screening of care workers;
* greater scrutiny regarding the use of restrictive practices in aged care;
* building trust and confidence in enduring documents as important advanced planning tools;
* protecting older people when ‘assets for care’ arrangements go wrong;
* banks and financial institutions protecting vulnerable customers from abuse;
better succession planning across the self-managed superannuation sector;
* adult safeguarding regimes protecting and supporting at-risk adults.

These outcomes should be further pursued through a National Plan to combat elder abuse and new empirical research into the prevalence of elder abuse.
ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, Commissioner-in-charge of the inquiry, said, “In developing the recommendations in this Report, we have worked to balance the autonomy of older people with providing appropriate protections, respecting the choices that older persons make, but also safeguarding them from abuse.”

The Report represents the culmination of research and consultation over a 15-month period, during which the ALRC consulted with 117 stakeholders around the country, released two consultation documents, and received more than 450 submissions.

Professor Croucher said:  “The ALRC is indebted to the broad range of individuals and organisations who have contributed to evidence base that informs its recommendations. In particular I thank the many individuals who generously shared with the ALRC personal stories of heartache and frustration, and of families torn apart by elder abuse. It is significant that the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon. George Brandis QC, has chosen to mark the launch of the Report today —with advocates and service providers —at the 2017 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Forum.”

Monday, 13 February 2017

The shocking truth about historic institutional child sexual abuse in Australia

A Child’s Morning Prayer
Lord, I awake and see your light,
For You have kept me through the night,
To You I lift my hands and pray,
Keep me from sin throughout this day,
And if I die before it's done,
Save me through Jesus Christ, Your Son.

A Child’s Night Prayer
Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this night be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Origin unknown

The Commonwealth of Australia Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held its first public hearing in Sydney from Monday 16 to Thursday 19 September 2013. The Royal Commission's first public hearing into the Catholic Church in Australia and child sexual abuse began on Monday, 9 December 2013 and multiple hearings relating to Catholic institutions and specific clergy followed over the next four years. 

Excerpts from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Public Hearing into Catholic Church Authorities, Case Study 50, transcript, 6 February 2017:

1. This is the Royal Commission’s 50th public hearing…..

7. It was plain that hearings were needed to examine the responses of faith-based institutions, given that, as at the end of 2016, 60% of survivors attending a private session reported abuse in those institutions. Of those survivors, nearly two thirds reported abuse in Catholic institutions. While the percentage has varied over time, at present over 37% of all private session attendees reported sexual abuse in a Catholic institution. Consequently Catholic institutions were a key part of the Royal Commission’s public hearings. …….

26. Between January 1980 and February 2015, 4,444 people alleged incidents of child sexual abuse made to 93 Catholic Church authorities. These claims related to over 1000 separate institutions.

27. The claims survey sought information about the people who made claims of child sexual abuse. Where the gender of people making a claim was reported, 78% were male and 22% were female. Of those people who made claims of child sexual abuse received by religious orders with only religious brother members, 97% were male.

28. The average age of people who made claims of child sexual abuse, at the time of the alleged abuse, was 10.5 for girls and 11.6 for boys. The average time between the alleged abuse and the date a claim was made was 33 years.

29. The claims survey sought information about alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse. A total of 1,880 alleged perpetrators were identified in claims of child sexual abuse. Over 500 unknown people were identified as alleged perpetrators. It cannot be determined whether any of those people whose identities are unknown were identified by another claimant in a separate claim.

30. Of the 1,880 identified alleged perpetrators:

a. 597 or 32% were religious brothers
b. 572 or 30% were priests
c. 543 or 29% were lay people
d. 96 or 5% were religious sisters.

31. Of all alleged perpetrators, 90% were male and 10% were female.

32. The Royal Commission surveyed 75 Catholic Church authorities with priest members, including archdioceses, dioceses and religious orders about the number of their members who ministered in Australia between 1 January 1950 and 31 December 2010. Ten Catholic religious orders with religious brother or sister members provided the same information about their members.

33. This information, when analysed in conjunction with the claims data, enabled calculation of the proportion of priests and religious brother and sister members of these Catholic Church authorities who ministered in this period and who were alleged perpetrators.

34. Of priests from the 75 Catholic Church authorities with priest members surveyed, who ministered in Australia between 1950 and 2010, 7.9% of diocesan priests were alleged perpetrators and 5.7% of religious priests were alleged perpetrators. Overall, 7% of priests were alleged perpetrators.

35. The Archdiocese of Adelaide and the Dominican Friars had the lowest overall proportion of priests who ministered in the period 1950 to 2010 and were alleged perpetrators, at 2.4% and 2.1% respectively.

36. The following five archdioceses or dioceses with priest members which had the highest overall proportion of priests who ministered in the period 1950 to 2010 and who were alleged perpetrators:

a. 11.7% of priests from the Diocese of Wollongong were alleged perpetrators
b. 13.9% of priests from the Diocese of Lismore were alleged perpetrators
c. 14.1% of priests from the Diocese of Port Pirie were alleged perpetrators
d. 14.7% of priests from the Diocese of Sandhurst were alleged perpetrators
e. 15.1% of priests from the Diocese of Sale were alleged perpetrators.

37. The following five religious orders with priest members had the highest overall proportion of priests who ministered in the period 1950 to 2010 and who were alleged perpetrators:

a. 8.0% of priests from the Vincentians – The Congregation of the Mission were alleged perpetrators
b. 13.7% of priests from the Pallottines – Society of the Catholic Apostolate were alleged perpetrators
d. 17.2% of priests from the Salesians of Don Bosco were alleged perpetrators
e. 21.5% of priests from the Benedictine Community of New Norcia were alleged perpetrators.

38. In relation to religious orders with religious brother and sister members, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of Mercy (Brisbane) had the lowest overall proportions of members who were alleged perpetrators, at 0.6% and 0.3% respectively.

39. The following five religious orders with only religious brother members had the highest overall proportion of religious brothers who ministered in the period 1950 to 2010 and who were alleged perpetrators:

a. 13.8% of De La Salle Brothers were alleged perpetrators
b. 20.4% of Marist Brothers were alleged perpetrators
c. 21.9% of Salesians of Don Bosco brothers were alleged perpetrators
d. 22.0% of Christian Brothers were alleged perpetrators
e. 40.4% of St John of God Brothers were alleged perpetrators.
c. 13.9% of priests from the Marist Fathers – Society of Mary were alleged perpetrators, as distinct from the Marist Brothers.

The St. John of God Brothers were established in Australia in the 1940s by eight men, six of whom were believed to be paedophiles. Brothers Kilian Herbert and Laurence Hartley arrived in Sydney from Ireland on 11 August 1947 to head this small group.

Previous North Coast Voices posts on child sexual abuse can be found here., 6 February 2017:

A brief of evidence concerning historical claims of sexual abuse at the hands of Cardinal George Pell has been delivered to prosecutors for consideration.

Victoria Police confirmed with AAP on Monday night that investigators had delivered the brief to the Office of Public Prosecutions.

It's a significant development in the case since three police travelled to Rome in October to speak with the former Ballarat priest and Melbourne archbishop.

Cardinal Pell now resides full-time at the Vatican. He cited ill-health as a reason he could not travel back to Australia to give evidence in last year's royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, appearing instead via video link.

Allegations emerged in 2015 from two men who said they were groped as children by Cardinal Pell when he was a priest in Ballarat during the 1970s.

Another man claimed he saw the priest expose himself to young boys in the late 1980s.

Cardinal Pell previously released a statement rejecting "all and every allegation of sexual abuse" and would continue co-operating with Victoria Police until the investigation was finalised.

The Northern Star, 7 February 2017:

WEDNESDAY 4.30pm: NEARLY 14% of Lismore's most experienced Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children by 2010 but the diocese's spokesman, the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, has reserved comment.

Between 52 and 64 priests have served in the Diocese of Lismore in each decade since 1950, with 129 priests having served in the area by 2010, detailed data presented to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has shown.

Some 18 of those priests, or 13.9%, have been accused of sexually abusing children throughout their careers, marking Lismore as one of the nation's top five worst dioceses for child sex accusations against the Church.

Too soon to comment: Diocese of Lismore

But Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese Bishop Jarrett, standing in while Bishop-elect Father Gregory Homeming prepares for his ordination, said it was too early to comment publicly on findings.

"My response is that we are in the early days of the Royal Commission's present three week hearing, and until it completes its investigation, it would be premature to comment on the first release of statistics," Bishop Jarrett said via email to The Northern Star.

"We would expect to have a fuller picture and a wider range of issues as time goes on and I will be available for comment at the end of the hearing."

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Faith-based institutions involved in 62 per cent of sexual abuse allegations reported to Royal Commission in private session


The Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM
Chair, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

It is now almost three years since the Commission held it first public hearing. In that time we have been able to complete the hearings and provide reports to the Governor-General and Governors in 26 case studies. Twenty two of those reports have been publicly released and four await publication by government. A further 13 case studies have been conducted and are at various stages of completion. Reports in those case studies will be provided to government in due course.

I have previously indicated that it is not possible for the Royal Commission to conduct a public hearing in relation to every institution about which we have received allegations of the sexual abuse of children. The Commission has received information about over 4,000 institutions. Because of the impossibility of conducting a public hearing in relation to each of these institutions we have carefully selected the institutions we have publicly investigated with a view to providing the government, the institutions and the public with an understanding of the nature of the problems which we have identified. The case studies have been selected to ensure an appropriate geographical spread and also an appropriate reflection of the type of institution where survivors were abused.

A breakdown of the institutions examined in our public hearings reveals the following. 29 case studies have examined at least one state institution (70% of all case studies). In 11 case studies state institutions were examined as a primary institution. Faith based institutions have been examined in 26 of our case studies (63% of all case studies). Catholic institutions have been examined in 14 case studies (34% of all case studies) and Anglican institutions have been examined in 5 case studies (12% of all case studies).

Today we commence a further hearing in relation to issues in the Catholic Church in NSW. This will be our last hearing dealing with Catholic institutions apart from the final review hearing which will occur next year.

As you will be aware the Commission is closing registrations for private sessions on 30 September this year. The Commissioners have now met with survivors in 5,866 private sessions and a further 1,616 people have been approved for a private session. We expect that by the time the Commission completes its work at the end of next year we will have held more than 7,200 private sessions.

The current breakdown of institutions in which survivors in private sessions state that they have been abused is as follows. 62% of attendees reported abuse in a faith-based institution. Around 27% reported abuse at government-run institutions. Abuse in Catholic institutions was reported by 40% of all private session attendees, abuse in Anglican institutions by 8% of attendees and abuse in Salvation Army institutions by 4% of attendees.

Apart from our work in public hearings and private sessions we have commissioned research across a broad range of issues relevant to the sexual abuse of children in an institutional context. The primary focus of our research has been to identify and document the changes that should be made to the way institutions are structured and governed to ensure so far as possible that children are not abused in the future. As required by our terms of reference we have also been concerned to ensure that the need for a redress response has been considered together with the response of the civil and criminal justice systems to allegations of the abuse of children. We have already published 27 research reports and a further 34 will be published in the near future. Apart from providing a valuable resource for the Commission these reports will be an authoritative source for other research and policy work long after the Commission has completed its final report.

I have previously mentioned that the Commission has worked co-operatively with police. Section 6P of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 authorises a Royal Commission to provide information to the police with respect to possible criminal offences. The Royal Commission has now referred 1,659 matters to police to consider for further investigation with a view to prosecution. Because of the volume of references the resources of the various police forces have been placed under significant pressure. Although I understand a great many references are awaiting investigation. So far prosecutions have been brought against 71 people.

After the present case study has been completed the Commission will turn its attention in a public hearing to harmful sexual behaviours of children within schools. There may be a limited number of future case studies. These will be followed by a series of review hearings in relation to various institutions and selected topics. I anticipate that our final hearing which has been given the working title ‘Nature, Cause and Impact of Child Sexual Abuse’ will focus amongst other matters on the ‘why’ question, and will take place in March 2017.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Royal Commission final report on the hell that was the Anglican North Coast Children's Home between 1940 and 1985 and continuing abuse of known adult victims who later sought assistance from the Grafton Diocese

The North Coast Children's Home was set up in Lismore in 1919 to house children who were orphans or wards of the state, or had been abandoned or placed there by their parents. 
We heard evidence of frequent sexual, psychological and physical abuse at the Home between 1940 to 1985.
Former residents, Tommy Campion, CA, CB, CD, CH, CK, CN and two others, told us they were sexually abused by clergy, staff or other residents while living at the Home.

Finding 1: The physical, psychological and sexual abuse suffered by the former residents of the North Coast Children's Home who gave evidence to the Royal Commission had profound, long-lasting impacts on their lives and mental health….

Finding 2: At all relevant times, the North Coast Children's Home was:
* strongly associated with the Anglican Church and its predecessor, the Church of England
* controlled by the Board of Management, including the Rector of St Andrew's Church
Lismore in the Diocese of Grafton….

Finding 3: The Diocese of Grafton initially dealt with Tommy Campion's complaint by
providing a copy of the Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme adopted by the Diocese in
2005. When faced with the group claim, the Diocese changed its response to Tommy
Campion's claim by stating that the Diocese and its Corporate Trustees had no legal
liability for sexual or physical abuse of a child by clergy, staff or other people associated
with the North Coast Children's Home…..

Finding 4: The Diocese of Grafton required group claimants to sign a deed of release
before counselling, acknowledgement, apology or financial settlement would be
provided, except for Tommy Campion, who was already receiving some counselling. This
was inconsistent with the Sydney Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme that the Diocese of Grafton adopted in 2005….

Finding 5: By 10 October 2006, the Diocese of Grafton was not following its own policies
in its handling of the group claim as set out in the:
* Professional Standards Ordinance and Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of
Sexual Abuse, both adopted in 2004
* Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme, adopted in 2005.

Finding 6: Bishop Keith Slater, then Bishop of Grafton, and the Diocese of Grafton should have managed the process under the 2004 Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of
Sexual Abuse when the group claim was being handled between the Diocesan and
claimants' solicitors.

Finding 7: The settlement negotiations on 19 and 20 December 2006 were conducted in
a hostile manner, contrary to the spirit of the 2005 Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme
and the 2004 Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Abuse….

Finding 8: The amounts offered to Tommy Campion, CA, CK, CL, CM and CN under the
group claim were substantially lower than if the claim had been resolved under the 2005
Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme that the Diocese of Grafton had adopted. The
Diocese misled Tommy Campion and CA that the scheme would be followed.

Finding 9: In handling the group claim, the Diocese of Grafton did not apply the 2004
Professional Standards Ordinance and Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual
Abuse. As a consequence, it did not provide a sympathetic and proportionate pastoral
response to the group claimants.

Finding 10: By denying legal liability, on the basis that it did not control the North Coast
Children's Home, and not providing a pastoral response, the Diocese of Grafton's
response had a detrimental effect on abused former residents….

Finding 11: Bishop Keith Slater did not follow the Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme in responding to Tommy Campion….

Finding 12: In 2012, when considering the request from Tommy Campion for information, Bishop Keith Slater acted to protect the interests of the former members of the Home's committee, including an elderly former member….

Finding 13: The Diocese of Grafton received further individual claims from former
residents of the North Coast Children's Home, but it did not deal with them in accordance with the Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme or the settlement of the group claim….

Finding 14: Bishop Keith Slater did not refer either CB's or CC's claims to the Professional Standards Committee, which was contrary to clause 24(1) of the Professional Standards Ordinance 2004.

Finding 15: Between 2006 and 2012, the Primate advised Bishop Keith Slater that:
*  the group claimants should have their complaints properly heard and be offered
counselling and pastoral support
* he should seek out further people who had been abused at the North Coast
Children's Home
* he should inform the police of all criminal allegations which came to his attention
arising out of the North Coast Children's Home.
The bishop did not follow the Primate's advice….

Finding 16: Despite its knowledge of potential claims by 2005, the Diocese of Grafton did not make provision for settling child sexual abuse claims in its annual budgets for 2006, and 2008 to 2012.

Finding 17: Acknowledging that some assets might not be readily available, the Diocese
of Grafton had enough assets either in its name, or in the Corporate Trustees of the
Diocese of Grafton's name, to allow it to settle the claims of child sexual abuse made
between 2005 and 2011 consistent with the Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme it
adopted in 2005.

Finding 18: The Diocese of Grafton did not make any financial provision for professional
standards matters. It prioritised the Clarence Valley Anglican School debt over its
financial obligations under the Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Abuse and
the Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme to pay abused former residents of the North
Coast Children's Home between 2007 and 2012….

Finding 19: The dioceses of Grafton and Newcastle could both have taken action in
response to the professional standards matters concerning Reverend Allan Kitchingman,
including his discipline. There was no clear system in place to determine which diocese
would assume responsibility.

Finding 20: From 2003 to 2013, Bishop Keith Slater was aware that Reverend Allan
Kitchingman had been convicted of sexual offences against a child, and had authority to
discipline him. Bishop Slater did not start disciplinary proceedings against the reverend.

Finding 21: From 2004, Reverend Patrick Comben was aware that Reverend Allan
Kitchingman had been convicted of sexual offences against a child but did not start
disciplinary proceedings against him.

Finding 22: In 2002, Archbishop Roger Herft, then Bishop of Newcastle, became aware
that Reverend Allan Kitchingman had been convicted of five counts of indecent assault
of a child at an Anglican home in the Diocese of Grafton. Between August 2002 and
February 2004, he did not start disciplinary proceedings against the reverend.

Finding 23: From 2006 to 2007, Philip Gerber, as Professional Standards Director of
Grafton and Newcastle, was aware that Reverend Allan Kitchingman had been convicted
of sexual offences against a child but did not start disciplinary proceedings against him.

Finding 24: The General Synod recommended guidelines for parish safety in 2009. The
Diocese of Newcastle did not adopt guidelines for managing people of concern until
around October 2013. As a result, there were no guidelines to manage any risk posed by
Reverend Allan Kitchingman's involvement in Newcastle Cathedral until October 2013.

Finding 25: From September 2005 until April 2013, no disciplinary action was taken
against Reverend Campbell Brown by the Diocese of Grafton or the Diocese of
Newcastle. During the same period, the Diocese of Grafton took no disciplinary action
against Reverend Winston Morgan.

Finding 26: From 2011 to 2013, Bishop Keith Slater did not refer allegations of criminal
conduct made by CB and CC to NSW Police. This was inconsistent with the 2004
Professional Standards Ordinance and Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual

Finding 27: The establishment of the National Register of the Anglican Church is a
positive initiative.

Finding 28: At the time of the hearing, the National Register of the Anglican Church did
not record the names of all people who might need to be registered because various
dioceses have been unable to review all their files to determine whether an entry should
be made….

In 2006, over 40 former residents began a group claim against the Diocese of Grafton. They claimed to have suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse at the Home between 1940 and 1985. Twenty of those claims involved child sexual abuse by clergy, staff, foster parents and others.
On 5 January 2006, Simon Harrison, from the law firm Nicol Robinson Halletts, wrote to Reverend Comben about the claim. Mr Harrison advised that he had instructions to represent 20 former residents who had been abused.
He asked for help identifying some former staff and for some documents related to the Home. Reverend Comben opposed giving this information. He said that he did not want to give the claimants' solicitors 'honorary research assistance'.
On 16 January 2006, Reverend Comben wrote to Peter Roland, from the law firm Foott Law & Co, with instructions to act in the matter for the Church. He asked Mr Roland about raising 'legal cases which deny the liability of an employer for the criminal acts of employees'.
Reverend Comben said that he thought Bishop-in-Council was influenced by a potential claim for $4 million that had been mentioned in the media. He said that
Bishop-in-Council's position was: 'defend it'.
Reverend Comben said he felt 'disappointed' that the matter was proceeding through lawyers. He asked Mr Roland to seek further details so they could give 'a Christian response' along with the legal response.
Mr Roland replied to Mr Harrison seeking more details about the assaults and perpetrators, and said that the Diocese was not a legal entity. He asked which people they proposed to hold liable for the assaults, and on what basis 'given the time which has elapsed'….

It was not until 2013 that the Anglican Church significantly revised its response to former residents of the Home. In May 2013, Ms Hywood, the new acting Registrar, reported to the Primate her concerns about the Diocese of Grafton's handling of claims over the previous six years. She noted that professional standards files were not properly kept or processed, and matters had not been referred to the Professional Standards Director.
Bishop Slater resigned as Bishop of Grafton on 17 May 2013. He issued a media statement apologising for not giving abuse claimants access to the Professional Standards Director.
In September 2013, the Diocese published an apology in several newspapers for the abuse at the Home and its handling of subsequent claims.
In October that year, Bishop-in-Council passed a revised Care and Assistance Scheme. This scheme is not as detailed as the Sydney Care and Assistance Scheme. The Diocese reviewed all claims that had not been investigated under the 2004 Protocol and has offered revised settlements.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Rev. Pat Comben resigns from all duties to Anglican Church

According to The Australian on 25 November 2013, former Clarence Valley Shire councillor and former registrar of the Grafton Diocese, Rev. Pat Comben has resigned from the Anglican priesthood:

He said on Monday he was quitting because history is being re-written by some members of the church.
Mr Comben said he had signed the letter of holy orders relinquishment outside the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse on Friday. That was just before he took the stand to give evidence into the diocese's handling of allegations by former residents of the home.
"Fifty years in the Church and I do not know if I can even say I am a Christian," said Mr Comben outside the commission on Monday after he had completed two days of evidence.

By 7pm his resignation "minutes before" he was due to give evidence before the Royal Commission was confirmed in an ABC News broadcast.

Caught out in what appears to be a second instance of failure to report, one suspects the Anglican Church may have been grateful for this resignation.


Mr Comben testified that he did not know why he asserted that ‘we’ know something. He said only he knew things and he erred in asserting that Cabinet had knowledge of what he knew….
He said that he had no specific knowledge about any matters involving child abuse.  Over some period of time he had received complaints at his electoral office about things that had allegedly occurred at the Sir Leslie Wilson Youth Centre, he had received complaints from homeless youths who had were detained at the John Oxley Youth Centre and had received ‘low grade scuttlebutt’ from some staff about children being inappropriately treated or inappropriately punished. He said that it was information of this nature which he had in mind when he referred to ‘child abuse’ in the statement broadcast in 1999. [State of Queensland,3(e) Report: Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, June 2013]


The Royal Commission into child abuse has heard a former Anglican Church official responsible for responding to historic abuse claims did not pass on allegations to police.
The former registrar of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton, Pat Comben, today took the stand for a second day at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Mr Comben, who had previously served as Queensland education minister under premier Wayne Goss, was the first to receive claims about the North Coast Children's Home at Lismore.
He has faced intense scrutiny about the evidence given to the commission by former residents of the home about the physical and sexual abuse they suffered between the 1940s and 1980s.
Witnesses at the commission last week criticised Mr Comben's handling of the allegations and subsequent negotiations for compensation, with his actions described as cruel and inappropriate.
Today counsel assisting the commission Simeon Beckett questioned Mr Comben about his actions.
"You were in possession of serious allegations of child sexual abuse made against a number of people, some named, some unnamed," Mr Beckett said.
"You did not provide that information to police. Why was that?" 
"I have no idea," Mr Comben said....[ABC News,25 November 2013,Anglican Church official Pat Comben quizzed in Royal Commission over response to child sex abuse at North Coast Children's Home]

"I became aware that (a convicted pedophile) Reverend Kitchingman, as he was, was still in the stud book...
 Mr Comben also told the commission that he subsequently took no disciplinary action against Reverend Kitchingman or another alleged pedophile priest at the home, Campbell Brown.
"I did nothing at all (about Kitchingman)," he told the commission. "I think we were too busy to take him on."

[The Australian,25 November 2013,I'm not sure I'm still a Christian, Anglican priest Pat Comben says]

* Day One (22 November 2013) of Mr. Comben’s evidence to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses To Child Sexual Abuse,pp 64-115
* Day Two (25 November 2013) of Mr. Comben’s evidence to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses To Child Sexual Abuse will be found here when transcribed.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Anglican Children's Home in Lismore subject of third public hearing of national Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Media Release 16 September 2013:

The third public hearing in November is to examine the handling of complaints and civil litigation concerning child sexual abuse in the North Coast Children’s Home by the Anglican Diocese of Grafton in 2006 and 2007.

Brief background included in this ABC News article and NCV post:

Anglican Diocese of Grafton apologies to North Coast Children's Home victims

Another perspective on the Reverend Hon Pat Comben - former Clarence Valley councillor (2008-2010)


Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse INTERIM REPORT VOLUME 1 30 June 2014:

Case Study No 3
The public hearing examined how the Anglican Diocese of Grafton in New South Wales handled claims of abuse from former residents of the North Coast Children’s Home, including whether policies and procedures were applied consistently and fairly.
Forty claimants, half of whom claimed to have suffered sexual abuse, brought a group claim against the Diocese.
It reached a settlement with most claimants in 2007, but later received further claims from new claimants….
Findings have not yet been made in this case study.

The North Coast Children's Home was first set up in 1919, when two young orphaned and neglected children were given into the care of the Vicar of St Andrews, the Reverend A. R. Ebbs. Those children were given temporary shelter until a local resident, a Mr George Barnard, offered the children the use of a house which he owned in Lismore, free of rent. There was public interest in the establishment of an orphanage in the town of Lismore. The placement of children at the Home continued, but its structure was not formalised until 1951, when a constitution for the home was prepared (Exhibit F to the affidavit of Mr Todd Yourell, 3 July 2014). The Management Committee was not incorporated, until 16 May 1989, when the relevant documents were lodged at the Corporate Affairs Commission registry in accordance with the Associations Incorporations Act 1984 (NSW).
Mr Yourell's affidavit sets out that the Church of England's role in relation to the Home continued, but on a restricted basis. Since 1989, the Bishop of the Diocese of Grafton has held powers enabling him to appoint up to four members of the Board of Governance, which is responsible for the affairs of the first plaintiff (hereafter referred to as "CASPA"). The Board of Governance is responsible for the affairs of CASPA and acts in the interests of CASPA. Prior to incorporation in 1989 the Anglican Diocese of Grafton was responsible for the affairs of North Coast Children's Home.
It was while the Anglican Diocese of Grafton was responsible for the affairs of North Coast Children's Home, prior to 1989, that substantial and serious abuse of children at the home occurred. Orphaned and neglected children in the care of the home were victims of sexual, physical and psychological abuse. As is common in relation to victims of institution-based abuse, there were few complaints at the time, and those which were made were ignored, disbelieved and/or discouraged.
The Anglican Diocese of Grafton received a number of complaints in 2006 about historical acts of physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore, all of which occurred between the 1940s and 1980s. Thirty-nine of those claims were settled through negotiated payments. Two of those persons did not participate in the settlement, and instead brought proceedings. Seven others later came forward with similar claims. The Right Reverend Keith Slater, who acknowledged that he did not pass on all the complaints to the Church's Professional Standards Director as was required, resigned as Bishop in May 2013.
While the nature and extent of the abuses which occurred are the subject of current inquiry and evidence, the nature and extent of the inquiry currently being undertaken by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse ("the Royal Commission") relates to periods well before the employment of the second and third plaintiff, and well before the first plaintiff, which is no longer a part of the Anglican Church but a separate organisation. It is neither controlled by, nor answerable to, the Anglican Church. As Mr Yourell points out in paragraphs 20-24 of his affidavit (Exhibit F), the Royal Commission is considering a case study of the home during its operation by the Anglican Church in the 1960s and 1970s, more than 40 years ago, but not into its present operation.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Australia in 2017 - Violence Against Women

Australia in 2017  - known deaths due to violence against women  -  23 dead by July 12 [Destroy the Joint, 12 July 2017]

A rarely spoken about aspect of domestic violence…………………

"It is widely accepted by abuse experts (and validated by numerous studies) …..that evangelical men who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives." [Professor of Theology Steven R, Tracy, 2007,‘Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: Challenging Common Misconceptions” inWHAT DOES “SUBMIT IN EVERYTHING” REALLY MEAN? THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF MARITAL SUBMISSION]

Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically. Church leaders in Australia say they abhor abuse of any kind. But advocates say the church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence, it is both enabling and concealing it……

In the past couple of years, concern has been growing amongst those working with survivors of domestic violence about the role the Christian church of all denominations can either consciously or inadvertently play in allowing abusive men to continue abusing their wives.

The questions are these: do abused women in church communities face challenges women outside them do not?

Do perpetrators ever claim church teachings on male control excuse their abuse, or tell victims they must stay?

Why have there been so few sermons on domestic violence? Why do so many women report that their ministers tell them to stay in violent marriages?

Is the stigma surrounding divorce still too great, and unforgiving? Is this also a problem for the men who are abused by their wives — a minority but nonetheless an important group?
And if the church is meant to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, why is it that the victims are the ones who leave churches while the perpetrators remain?

Is it true — as one Anglican bishop has claimed — that there are striking similarities to the church's failure to protect children from abuse, and that this next generation's reckoning will be about the failure in their ranks to protect women from domestic violence?

A 12-month ABC News and 7.30 investigation involving dozens of interviews with survivors of domestic violence, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations — including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal and Presbyterian — has discovered the answers to these questions will stun those who believe the church should protect the abused, not the abusers.

ABC TV 7.30 current affairs program, 19 July 2017 - Christian women told to endure domestic abuse, excerpt from transcript:

JULIA BAIRD: In Australia, there has never been any real research into the prevalence of domestic violence within church communities, but Barbara runs a website for survivors which points to an alarming trend.

She estimates 800,000 Christian women, who have survived abuse around the world, have visited the page.

BARBARA ROBERTS: Christian women are particularly vulnerable because they take the Bible very seriously and they want to obey God. They know it says "turn the other cheek", they know it says "be long-suffering". 

The website mentioned in the current affairs program is A Cry For Justice.

Church leaders are not happy with the media attention and are calling foul.

The Australian, 21 July 2017:

A spokesman for Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said it was “disappointing when important, public issues are subject­ to selective presentation of information, inaccurate reporting and opinion-based journalism which misrepresents the facts”.

“To make domestic vio­lence­ part of a culture war against evangelical Christianity does no service to the women who suffer this appalling treatment,” he said.

An ABC spokesman defended 7.30, saying it was “not an attack on Christianity but an explor­ation of its intersection with ­issues of domestic violence, a legitimate and newsworthy sub­ject­”. Wednesday’s report was the latest in a series. Future prog­rams would examine other religions, including Islam and Judaism.

News Corp’s attack on the public broadcaster continues apace with these extraordinarily worded questions presumably put to the ABC by Sydney-based journalist Ean Higgins.

Response to questions from The Australian.

1. Why didn’t the ABC report the truth: that Christianity actually saves women from abuse?
The ABC did report that point – that religiosity can be a protective factor against domestic violence – in its review of the research, “Regular church attenders are less likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence”.
As part of this series, the ABC will be reporting on how all the major Christian churches in Australia are seeking to address the issue of domestic violence in their community. The ABC has collected dozens of accounts of women suffering abuse and, unfortunately, receiving a poor response from the church. But many have also sought and received excellent care, and know there are many wonderful Christian men and women working to make a difference. Our reporting also presents an excellent opportunity for churches, one that we’re pleased to hear many are taking seriously.
In addition, this is not a Christian versus secular argument; it is a conversation currently underway inside the church, as is evident by critics, counsellors, theologians, priests, and bishops quoted in the 7000-word piece on the ABC News site and the priests, synod members and churchgoers interviewed for 730.
2. Why did it instead falsely claim — and instantly believe — the falsehood that evangelical Christians are the worst abusers?
We did not make any false claims, we correctly cited relevant, peer-reviewed research that has been quoted and relied upon by numerous experts in this area of religion and domestic violence. Theology professor Steven Tracy is one of, if not the most authoritative and widely cited voice on this topic in America. We do not have the figures for Australia, as pointed out in the piece. We also pointed out that regular church attendance made men less likely to be violent. Again, this has all been included in the reporting.
Professor Steven Tracy found “that evangelical men [in North America] who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives”. Tracy cites five other studies to support his claim: Ellison and Anderson 2001; Brinkerhoff et al 1991; Ellison and Anderson 1999; Wilcox 2004; Fergusson et al 1986.
The ABC also interviewed dozens of Christian men and women in Australia and abroad whose personal experience with domestic abuse – and the Church’s response to it – supports this claim.
As Adelaide Bishop Tim Harris told the ABC: “it is well recognised that males (usually) seeking to justify abuse will be drawn to misinterpretations [of the Bible] to attempt to legitimise abhorrent attitudes.”
Furthermore, since the article was published, many women have contacted the ABC to share similar stories of abuse by men (including religious leaders) who have justified their violence – and / or women’s subordination – with scripture.
However, the ABC agrees with dozens of academics and religious groups interviewed who argue that further research into the prevalence and nature of domestic violence in religious communities is needed – especially in Australia.
3. What does Ms Guthrie say to Bolt’s claim that “the ABC is not merely at war with Christianity. This proves something worse: it is attacking the faith that most makes people civil.”
The ABC is not at war with Christianity. It is reporting on domestic violence in religious communities, which it notes – and as two recent significant inquiries into domestic and family violence reported – has been under-discussed in Australia, particularity in light of the Royal Commission into Domestic Violence.
As part of its investigation into domestic violence and religion, the ABC is also examining other major religions, including Islam and Judaism.
It should be noted that clergy from the Presbyterian, Anglican and Uniting and Baptist churches have written to the ABC thanking them for their reporting.
Mr. Higgins antipathy towards the ABC appears to be well-known.

Realising its first response was not the best response in the circumstances, organised religion began to back pedal a day later.

ABC News, 22 July 2017:

Australian church leaders are calling on Christian communities to urgently respond to women who are being abused in their congregations, with the most senior Anglican cleric in the country arguing victims of domestic violence deserve an apology from the Church.

An ABC News investigation into religion and domestic violence involving dozens of interviews with survivors, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations has found the Church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence but is, in some cases, ignoring it or allowing it to continue.

And a comprehensive survey conducted by ABC News into programs and protocols churches across the country have in place to address domestic violence — the first attempt to compile this information — reveals mixed responses from different denominations.

While many genuine efforts are being made, critics say there are no coordinated national approaches, and that collection of useful data is required along with a commitment to serious cultural change.

Now, senior members of the Church are urging that clergy and pastoral workers must acknowledge poor responses to domestic abuse and work to take meaningful action against it.
The Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, said he supported an unequivocal apology expressed this week by an Anglican priestto victims of domestic abuse in the Church.

"I'm hoping that there will be some words of apology to people who have experienced domestic violence and any failure from the Church at our General Synod, coming up in September," the Archbishop said on The Drum.

The Archbishop said he "was moved" by the words of Father Daryl McCullough, who said in a statement on his website that he condemned men's misuse of scripture to justify abusing their wives.

"As a priest in the Church of God, I am truly and deeply sorry if you or anyone you love has been the victim of abuse and found the Church complicit in making that abuse worse," Fr Daryl McCullough said.