Australia’s National Redress Scheme (the NRS) provides compensation for victims of institutional child sex abuse. The NRS is run by the Commonwealth Government. Victims have mainly suffered at the hands of religious and educational institutions, including churches, schools, children’s homes and orphanages.
However, the NRS has made their guidelines difficult to understand and has placed an unreasonable cap on compensation for survivors, so even the most traumatised people can only receive a maximum of $150,000. Most people will be lucky to get $50,000.
There are other options to consider before contacting the National Redress Scheme. Kelso Lawyers has expertise and experience in winning civil compensation directly from the church, charity or government institution. We can help achieve justice, compensation, and apologies, offering much more relief than the NRS can provide.
Below are a few of the worst offending institutions that Kelso Lawyers has had first-hand experience with. Kelsos’s have won significant compensation against all of these institutions.
|The Marist Brothers||De La Salle Brothers||Archdiocese of Melbourne||The Department of Family and Community Services|
|Christian Brothers||Archdiocese of Sydney||Anglican Diocese of Newcastle||The Department of Education|
Australia has a problem with child abuse in religious organisations, the worst of which being the Catholic Church.
The Royal Commission examined over 1.2 million documents in their research. 41,770 calls were made, 25,774 emails and letters were received, and 2,562 referrals were made to the police.
Through this communication, it was found that 58.6% of survivors were abused in an institution managed through a religious organisation. 61.8% of these individuals were abused in an institution managed by the Catholic Church.
These individuals accounted for 36.2% of all survivors who approached the Commission.
Read on to discover the worst offending institutions and religious organisations in Australia.
Image: Marist Brothers
The Marist Brothers is a Catholic institution that was established in Australia in 1872. Over the past 150 years, the organisation has administered 74 schools and operated 21, including 12 boarding schools.
Between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 allegations of child sexual abuse were made to Catholic Church authorities. From a survey completed by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, around 20% of allegations were made against the Marist Brothers.
There were two main offenders in the case of the Marist Brothers. Their names were Brother Gregory Sutton and Brother Kostka Chute.
Brother Chute’s record of child abuse started in 1962 when he taught at St Anne’s Primary School in Bondi. Three claimants – ACF, ACP and AAI – have claimed Chute abused them at the school. Chute admitted to sexually abusing the children to fellow teacher, Brother Des Phillips, who then failed to contact the police.
The Royal Commission described this response as “grossly inadequate”.
Brother Chute was not often supervised and was allowed to be alone with children, despite several allegations against him.
Brother Chute was convicted in 2008 of 19 child sex offences against six of his former students between 1985 to 1989.
Brother Sutton was arrested in 1995 in Missouri, United States, for 24 alleged sex offences in Australia. Upon returning to Australia, Brother Sutton faced a total of 67 child sex offences against 15 students in New South Wales. The offences included:
Altogether, there were 69 claims of child sexual abuse against Brother Chute and Brother Sutton. Around 56 claims have been resolved and these survivors of sexual abuse have received payments from the Catholic Church.
The legal costs for the Marist Brothers insurer, Catholic Church Insurance, are as follows:
Kelso Lawyers has settled 25 claims against the Marist Brothers. We have helped achieve justice for survivors of their abuse and given them some reprieve from their struggle.
The Congregation of Christian Brothers is an international Catholic group which was formed in Ireland in 1802.
Since the 1950s, 22% of Christian Brothers in Australia have been alleged sexual predators. The Royal Commission has since investigated the experiences of 11 men who lived at four residential institutions run by the Christian Brothers in Western Australia, including:
The men gave evidence and made allegations of sexual abuse against 16 Christian Brothers. These men were abused physically, emotionally and sexually. One of the men attempted to alert police but was belted for doing so.
The boys received little education. Instead, they were forced to do manual labour, like constructing railways, landscaping, and general farming. They were supplied with clothes but no underwear or shoes, plus minimal food to sustain them.
At night, the children were watched naked in the showers and were abused in their dormitories, in Brothers’ rooms, during movie screenings and at random intervals in the grounds.
Between 1980 and 2013, 775 allegations were made and 196 of those allegations related to abuse at the four institutions mentioned above. There were 101 complainants from these schools and orphanages. Over $20 million has been awarded to abuse survivors.
According to minutes from litigation in the 1990s, Christian Brothers showed no concern for the welfare of survivors. Their concerns were focused on the cost to their organisation.
Being one of the most physically and sexually abusive religious groups in Australia, Kelso Lawyers has handled 30 claims against the Christian Brothers.
Image: De La Salle Brothers
The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (otherwise known as the De La Salle Brothers) is a Catholic teaching congregation which started in France around 1651–1719.
Between 1950 and 2009, there have been 492 members of the De La Salle Brothers. According to Royal Commission numbers, approximately 13.8% of De La Salle Brothers are alleged paedophiles.
The order has been subject to 328 claims of sexual abuse including 219 claims from its BoysTown facility in Beaudesert in Queensland.
One of the worst accounts of abuse was that of John Comerford. He was 11-years-old when he was raped by Brother Anselm Hallam at De La Salle College in Sydney. He was caught eating some communion bread and Anselm punished him by hitting him repeatedly across the head, then raping him.
John has since struggled with severe depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. When he was 18, John returned to the school with a shotgun, planning on killing his teacher. He was told Anselm was dead.
It is alleged Anselm was moved from a Melbourne school to Sydney after receiving multiple accusations of sexual abuse.
The school has been called a “hotspot of paedophilia in Sydney”.
Throughout the Royal Commission’s investigation, the Archdiocese of Sydney was firmly planted in the spotlight.
A common place to send paedophile priests whose crimes had been found out in their home states, hundreds of children were abused in Catholic Churches throughout Sydney.
In the years following his relocation, two allegations against Ridsdale surfaced, including child abuse of one child in Maroubra and one in Yarra Bay. The victim from Yarra Bay attempted suicide in 1989.
The Archdiocese has since continued to abuse their victims. In 2002, John Ellis came forward and reported his experience with abuse involving Father Aidan Duggan in Bass Hill. Cardinal George Pell – then the leader of the Archdiocese – traumatised Ellis further by denying him compensation or acknowledgment of the abuse.
In 2004, Ellis took his case to the New South Wales Supreme Court. Pell refused mediation and his lawyers attacked Ellis’ character during cross-examination. Pell succeeded in blocking Ellis’ case, creating a precedent or the “Ellis Defence” that deters victims from taking action against the Church.
The current Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said he is ashamed of the Archdiocese and felt “harrowed” hearing stories of abuse throughout the region.
“I am ashamed and I’m sorry for where we’ve failed you in the past,” Fisher said.
“The Church can do better and I’m determined to play my part as a leader in Sydney.”
Throughout the Royal Commission’s investigation, Catholic Schools and the Catholic Education Office of Melbourne were scrutinised for their response to rampant sexual abuse in the state.
Serial paedophile, Gerald Ridsdale, is a former priest of the Diocese of Ballarat. He faced 100 charges of sexual abuse and in 2017, he pleaded guilty to 20 historical abuse charges including 14 counts of indecent assault, two counts of buggery, two counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of taking part in an act of sexual penetration of a child.
Ridsdale is one of the most prolific paedophiles in Australian history.
Another Melbournian paedophile priest was Monsignor John Day. He walked free despite the 16 sworn statements from 14 boys and two girls from Mildura detailing how the Monsignor had committed sexual crimes against them in the 1960s.
Bishop Robert Mulkearns knew about Monsignor Day’s sexual abuse of children. His response to the stories of abuse?
“The Church is bigger and more important than the activities of one or another Church member, even should that member be or have been in the past a priest. The Church is made up of both saints and sinners.”
The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle was scrutinised during Royal Commission proceedings for their consistent failure to acknowledge and respond to claims of abuse made by children throughout the region.
Newcastle and surrounding areas including the Hunter Valley, Central Coast, and Maitland were rife with child sexual abuse. Some of Australia’s worst paedophiles have come from Newcastle and surrounds, including Father Peter Rushton, who raped a 10-year-old boy regularly for years.
Rushton was at the centre of a paedophile ring in the Hunter. One of his victims, Paul Gray, witnessed a number of boys being forced to lie on beds as groups of men would file through and choose a boy, take them into another room, and rape them.
Rushton died in 2007 without ever being charged for his crimes.
The trend of abuse in the Hunter region goes higher than Father Rushton. The Anglican Dean of Newcastle, Graeme Lawrence, is one of an accused “gang of three” priests who is believed to have covered up Rushton’s crimes.
Lawrence himself has also been accused of abusing a 15-year-old boy.
The Newcastle Diocese has a dark past of cover ups, paedophile sex rings, and child abuse. Countless children had their lives ruined in the Hunter region, going back as far as the 1960s.
The role of the government should be to protect the people, even more so children.
However, over the years, Kelso Lawyers has assisted with the settlement of 236 claims of child abuse against the state, including the Department of Family and Community Services and the Department of Education.
Children were often mistreated, beaten, and abused in foster care as well as school. It is now our mission to achieve justice for vulnerable children who were forced into schooling and care with no means of escape, no one believing them.
Learn more about these government institutions below.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse investigated the crimes of paedophiles and child abusers for five years. In this time, the Commission achieved justice for thousands of people and shed light on the disturbing culture of child abuse in Australia.
However, there was one omission the Commission failed to look into: foster parents.
Australia has a disturbing past of child abuse in orphanages, children’s homes, and foster care. The Parramatta Girls Training School was one of the worst cases on record. Girls who lived at the school would steal pins and needles from the sewing room to self-harm because their treatment at the home was so harsh.
The “Parra Girls” had numbers, not names, and were often locked in a dungeon where the girls would be raped. The girls were forced to do manual labour and were sometimes beaten so hard their teeth would shatter.
Parramatta abuse witness, Robyne Stone, described the school as being “run like a concentration camp.”
Further west in Windsor was the Daruk Boys Home which was the scene of ongoing sexual abuse throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. Boys as young as thirteen would have their genitals mutilated and were forced to give oral sex to their carers.
The Government doesn’t want to deal with the problem of abuse in foster care. Kelso Lawyers, however, do.
Over the years, Kelso Lawyers has represented 120 women who lived at the Parramatta Girls Training School and 30 from the Daruk Boys’ Home in Windsor.
All children in Australia have the right to a safe, enriching education. However, throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, school was a place where children were abused emotionally, physically, and sexually.
According to interviews and findings from the Royal Commission, 1,238 teachers were found to be child abusers. This number comes second only to members of religious industries at 2,111.
Ben Venue Public School in Armidale was one of the worst public schools in New South Wales for abuse. The school was known for its excellence in gymnastics. Parents didn’t know there was a ring of paedophiles working at the school including the gymnastics teacher, John Ferris.
Ferris would be present while the girls changed into their gymnastics clothes and abuse them in the changerooms. He would also call the girls to his office, making them think he was going to chastise them, and then would attack them.
In 2016, Ferris was charged with kidnapping for advantage, lewdness and indecent assault among a list of other crimes. Some of his victims have since been diagnosed with severe PTSD.
The educational abuse also occurred in Adamstown, Newcastle, at St Pius X College. Around 46 claims have been made against St Pius and former teacher, Edward Hall, is accused of abusing at least 11 students.
In 2018, one of his victims has alleged Hall gave him alcohol at his unit in Merewether, passed out, and woke to find the teacher on top of him. The Newcastle student claims Hall “made threatening comments indicating if he said anything he’d be dead or his parents would be dead” if he told anyone about the abuse.
Hall denies the claims and will fight them in court later in 2018.
Teachers and members of school staff are in a position of power over children. These paedophiles and child abusers chose to use their power to take advantage of children who were unable or too scared to defend themselves.
Kelso Lawyers has settled 15 claims against the Department of Education. Of these claims, 7 were from Ben Venue Public School alone.
These are just some of the institutions and organisations that have taken advantage of children, causing a lifetime of pain and suffering from the vicious abuse they experienced at the hands of adults.
If you believe you were abused by a member of a religious organisation or educational institution, the National Redress Scheme is not the first point of call for compensation.
The NRS guidelines are convoluted and misleading, causing confusion for even the most experienced solicitor. Plus, the NRS has placed a disgraceful cap on compensation for victims of abuse – $50,000 for direct contact abuse victims and $20,000 for victims of disturbing emotional abuse.
Before contacting the NRS for compensation, explore your options and contact Kelso Lawyers. Our team has years of experience settling claims against offending institutions and can help you to achieve a higher level of compensation, as well as a sincere apology from your offender.
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