Survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of the Salvation Army say the charity is not transparent and hasn’t changed its ways.
A survivor of child sexual abuse at the hands of Salvation Army officers says an apology from the organisation means nothing to him, while another witness has urged Australians to think twice about donating to the charity.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday heard from two men who survived abuse at different Salvation Army schools.
One man, FE, was raped repeatedly by guards at the Gill Memorial School in Goulburn in the early 1970s.
He said he was offered a $60,000 ex gratia payment by the Salvos in 2006, but was not told how that amount was calculated.
“The way I saw it, it was hush money,” FE said.
“It’s an insult to be quite honest. It means nothing unless it’s sincere.”
When asked by council assisting the commission if he had been offered an apology by a Salvation Army official, he said no.
“I refused to go inside the Salvation Army building,” he said.
FE also detailed abuse at the Gill home and other homes in Sydney, and he was clapped by commission observers at the end of his testimony.
The commission on Tuesday also heard from victim’s advocate John Lucas, who said survivors of abuse would often become upset at mediation meetings, when confronted by the charity’s trademark uniform.
But he said there were positives to these meetings, and that the experience of each individual was different.
“I don’t know how these apologies could be handled any differently,” he said in a statement to the commission.
Earlier, abuse survivor Allan Anderson told the commission the Salvation Army was not transparent, and eliciting accountability from the charity was an “ongoing roundabout.”
Mr Anderson was physically and emotionally abused while at Bexley Boys’ Home between 1966 and 1971.
“I see the Salvation Army as not changed, but hidden a lot, and professing to all that they are a kind and caring organisation,” Mr Anderson said.
“Let me suggest to the public as a whole: think twice before you put your hand in your pocket and give when the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal comes around, for you should not give so generously.”
Boys and girls lives were damaged, he said, and any compensation should come from the organisation’s pockets, and “not the public’s.”
During his time at Bexley, Mr Anderson was physically and emotionally abused, while his brother, now dead, suffered sexual abuse.
Mr Anderson, who has developed chronic anxiety as a result of the abuse he suffered, is also seeking specific answers about the abuse of his brother, the death of a friend at the home, and unnecessary dental work carried out while there.
“Why is it you can’t give us what we require,” Mr Anderson said.
“Why is it you say you don’t have the information, when you get us to painstakingly take days, months, weeks and years to continually write an impact statement.
“I have gone over my story some 10 to 12 times since October 2013 to various parties of The Salvation Army.
“The Salvation Army took my childhood, and my brother’s and my sister’s.”
He said he had been asked to write numerous statements to the Salvation Army, detailing “both good and bad” experiences in the home, and its impact on his health and employment as well as family, marriage and sexual relationships.
The inquiry continues before Justice Peter McClellan.