National Redress Scheme: Australia sex abuse compensation scheme begins

Australia has begun a compensation scheme for victims of institutional child sex abuse.

Some 60,000 Australians will be eligible for compensation.the scheme, known as the National Redress Scheme.

Australian authorities believe a A$4bn ($3bn; £2.23bn) compensation plan will help to ease the pain of victims.

Financial redress was a key recommendation of a Royal Commission into decades-long child abuse in Australian institutions.

The Commission spent five years investigating suffering and abuse in religious organisations, [boarding] schools, charities, sports clubs and the military.

The Australian government accepted almost all of the landmark inquiry recommendations.

If victims apply for the redress scheme, they sign away their right to sue.

We stand united in support of the estimated 60,000 people who were abused by trusted organisations that should have protected them,” Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement.

Many state governments and religious groups, including the Catholic Church, have joined the scheme.

The maximum award per victim has been capped at A$150,000 (£84,000; US$111,000). The average payment is likely to be around A$67,000 (£38,000; $50,000).

Doug Goulter faced years of sexual abuse in a Melbourne children’s home and then in a Sydney jail from the age of 17.

He told Australian broadcaster ABC the impact of the abuse had lasted a lifetime.

“Even with the people you love, you can’t be too intimate, and you can’t even talk to them about it because they don’t want to feel your pain,” Mr Goulter said.

Some lawyers say the scheme should only be a last resort because victims might get higher compensation by suing the institutions where they were abused.

But for Mr Goulter, who is terminally ill, such a move would take too long.

“There is no other option for me. Civil action would be the best way to go but I don’t have the time. My life expectancy is so short now that to take civil action would just take too long,” he told ABC.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the scheme was “part of the healing process“.

We have to confront the truth that has been revealed, as difficult as it is,” Mr Turnbull said in a statement.

He will make a formal apology to victims of institutional abuse on 22 October.

BBC News

The difference is the distance

In many countries, Australia included, boarding is almost a necessity for some children due to their remote locations on farms and stations.

Here is an interesting story of a preteen who decided on boarding for herself. Unlike so many children in the UK for whom the decision is made for them, or they must agree to please their parents.

Going off to boarding school at 12 years old is no small feat, but Phoebe Sneath is taking it in her stride.

The avid gymnast from the small town of Port MacDonnell, near Mt Gambier in South Australia, discovered that alongside the gymnastics program at Methodist Ladies’ College in Melbourne, there was also a boarding house.

From that moment, “I had my heart set on studying here,” Phoebe said.

The Year 7 student acknowledged it was a big decision for her to move to MLC.

The decision was all up to me, and my parents were very supportive,” she said.

I live on a farm, so moving to the city was a big change.””

The Weekly Times (Australia)

Australia child abuse inquiry: Final recommendations released

A five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia has released its final report, making more than 400 recommendations.

The royal commission uncovered harrowing evidence of sexual abuse within institutions, including churches, boarding schools and sports clubs.

Since 2013, it has referred more than 2,500 allegations to authorities.

The final report, released on Friday, added 189 recommendations to 220 that had already been made public.

Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number,” the report said.

“It is not a case of a few ‘rotten apples’. Society’s major institutions have seriously failed.”

Religious ministers and school teachers were the most commonly reported perpetrators, the report said.

[Two inquiries in the UK into sexual abuse of children in boarding schools and other institutions are ongoing…]

BBC News

Queensland school cuts boarders after abuse

A north Queensland indigenous college is closing its secondary school and will no longer take boarders following child abuse investigations.

Uniting Church Reverend David Baker says the decision was based on the “welfare and best interests of our students” at Shalom Christian College.

“We understand that this decision will be distressing for students, parents, teachers and community leaders,” the reverend said in a statement.

“We emphasise that we have a responsibility to ensure the school is a safe, supportive and productive learning environment.”

The Age

Notorious paedophile Brian Joseph Spillane sentenced for 16 child sex offences

Serial paedophile and former priest Brian Joseph Spillane​ has been sentenced to another 13 years in jail for abusing young boys, many of whom were homesick and turned to him for help, at a private Catholic boarding school.

Spillane, 74, kept his back turned to his victims and their families as the sentence was handed down in a packed court room in the Downing Centre District Court on Thursday.

The former teacher, chaplain and head of discipline at St Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst, in central west NSW preyed on young boys who came from strictly Catholic families who revered priests.

Spillane used religious rituals, purporting to perform exorcisms, prayers and to speak in tongues, as a ruse to sexually abuse the boys.

After two trials last year, Spillane was found guilty of a total of 16 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and buggery, relating to attacks on several boys between 1974 and 1990.

The boys were aged between 12 and 15 and were either boarders or day students at the school.

“He knew that most of these complainants were desperately homesick and offered them comfort only to sexually abuse them,” Judge Robyn Tupman said.

“He knew he could act with impunity and with almost no chance that his behaviour would be revealed.”

The Border Mail (Australia)

Catholic Church paid A$276m to abuse victims in Australia

The Australian Catholic Church has paid A$276m (£171m; $213m) to victims of sexual abuse since 1980, an inquiry has heard.

The money was divided between thousands of victims, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse was told.

The data, released on Thursday, showed the average payment was A$91,000.

The landmark royal commission was set up in 2013 and is also investigating abuse at non-religious organisations.

The Catholic Church made the payments in response to 3,066 of 4,445 child sexual abuse claims between 1980 and 2015, the inquiry heard. More than 40% of claims were received by a handful of male orders.

They included compensation, treatment, legal and other costs, said Gail Furness, the lead lawyer assisting the commission in Sydney.

BBC News

Australia: Boarding school staff work hard to provide home away from home for rural students

Unlike the UK, Australia faces the challenge of educating children from remote areas.

“As a home away from home, boarding school staff work hard to welcome new and returning students and ease the transition from country house to boarding house.

Back to school for isolated rural and remote families often means sending children hundreds of kilometres away to boarding schools.

Stewart Norford and his wife Tania have been working with boarding students for 30 years.”

ABC News (Australia)

Australia: Abuse commission has received allegations linked to 4,000 boarding schools

A Catholic boarding college in Bathurst is preparing to apologise to past students who were sexually abused.

Dozens of children were abused at St Stanislaus’ College, a New South Wales school that is this year marking its 150th year, making it one of Australia’s oldest boarding schools.

The school, run by the Catholic Vincentian Fathers, wants its public outreach to be in the “spirit of a reconciliatory gesture”, according to its headmaster, Anne Wenham.

“Our hope and intention is that it may offer one step in the healing process for all victims,” Wenham said. “We will endeavour to ensure that they and their families, as well as current and former members of this college community and the public, feel welcome to join us for this.”

A retired journalist and former St Stanislaus student, Terry Jones, said the apology had only come after media attention and his contact with the school.

The Guardian

View from Australia

Although we here at Boarding Concern focus on the UK boarding situation, we have many supporters and visitors from around the world.

This article from The Age in Melbourne, Victoria, sums up the current boarding situation in Australia.

  • Weekly boarding replacing full boarding for older teenagers
  • Australia’s size with parents working interstate, all home for the weekend
  • Transforming boarding to meet the needs of 16+
  • 23,000 boarders currently in Australia

The Age