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.

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Keith Martin said...
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