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
Excerpts from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Report of Case Study No. 3 Anglican Diocese of Grafton's response to child sexual abuse at the North Coast Children's Home, 27 October 2014:
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
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
* 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
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
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.