Image: Sydney Morning Herald
Emotional, physical and sexual abuse by clergy and older boys became a way of life for boys living in four Christian Brothers children’s homes from the 1940s to the 1960s.
Many boys were orphans or child migrants and had no-one to turn to for help. Violent beatings were commonplace at the homes, and the boys were fearful of brutal consequences if they spoke out. One boy who confided in a nun about being sexually abused was severely belted when a Brother was told of the allegation.
The Royal Commission Christian Brothers public hearings investigated the experiences of 11 men who had lived at four children’s homes run by the Christian Brothers’ in Western Australia. The institutions — Castledare Junior Orphanage, St Vincent’s Orphanage Clontarf, St Mary’s Agricultural School Tardun and Bindoon Farm School – operated from the late 1920s and closed down between the 1960s and 1980s.
“The Christian Brothers is a Catholic religious institution that, in 1957, was divided into four provinces. Each province is governed by a Provincial Council. The Royal Commission hearings focused on the activities in Western Australia’s Holy Spirit Province”
Sexual abuse allegations were made against 16 brothers, and the Royal Commission found that the Provincial Council was aware of sexual abuse claims for several decades.
In 2015, after the Royal Commission hearings, the Christian Brothers agreed to re-examine settlements and review those found to be “unreasonably low”. As a result, about half of the 130 requests for review received increased payments.