• Event

Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations

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On 17 April 2012 the Victorian Government announced the establishment of a Parliamentary inquiry into ‘matters relating to the handling of alleged child abuse by religious and other organisations’ . In response to Recommendation 48 of the Cummins Inquiry, the Family and Community Development Committee is requested ‘to inquire into, consider and report to the Parliament on the processes by which religious and other non-government organisations respond to the criminal abuse of children by personnel within their organisations’.

The terms of reference include:
1. the practices, policies and protocols in such organisations for the handling of allegations of criminal abuse of children, including measures put in place by various organisations in response to concerns about such abuse within the organisation or the potential for such abuse to occur.
2. whether there are systemic practices in such organisations that operate to preclude or discourage the reporting of suspected criminal abuse of children to state authorities; and
3. whether changes to law or to practices, policies and protocols in such organisations are required to help prevent criminal abuse of children by personnel in such organisations and to deal with allegations of such abuse.

Members of the Committee include four members of the Liberal Party; Mrs Donna Bauer MLA, Mrs Andrea Coote MLC, Ms Georgie Crozier MLC, and Mr Nick Wakeling MLA, and two members of the Australian Labor Party; Ms Bronwyn Halfpenny MLA, and Mr Frank McGuire MLA.

On Wednesday 13 November 2013 the Committee tabled its report in Parliament for the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations. The Report noted:

This Report may appear to emphasise offences that occurred in the Catholic Church and the homes and orphanages operated by the Salvation Army. This is an inevitable product of the volume and content of the evidence the Committee received and the information it secured. More than 80 per cent of public submissions to the Committee were about abuse by members of Catholic religious orders, covering a period spanning more than 70 years. When both the public and confidential submissions are considered, a substantial portion of evidence to the Inquiry contained complaints of abuse in Salvation Army institutions.

The Report also highlighted particular institutions which had been regularly mentioned:

The Committee received submissions from victims who had attended a number of institutions. Many of the accounts related to experiences of growing up in institutions or orphanages operated by the Salvation Army including Bayswater Boys Home and Box Hill Boys Home. Individuals also related experiences of being placed in the care of the Christian Brothers at St Vincent de Paul Boys Home in South Melbourne, St Augustine’s Boys Home in Geelong or the Franciscan Brothers at Morning Star in Mt Eliza.

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