Salvos abuse victims say apology is not enough
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Salvos abuse victims say apology is not enough

NEXT week's apology by the Salvation Army to children who were abused while in the organisation's care comes not before time, 300 former wards say.

Many victims believe the apology, the first by an Australian institution, does not go far enough in recognising their complaints.

Leonie Sheedy, the co-convener of the Care Leavers Australia Network, said a recommendation in the forgotten Australians Senate report in 2004 to set up a rehabilitation fund had been ignored.

Some victims, such as Ralph Doughty, who was at the Salvation Army's Gill Memorial Home at Goulburn for 10 years until age 17, say churches and charities wanted to escape their commitments as cheaply as possible.

The apology will be delivered at Old Parliament House on Tuesday by the chief-of-staff at the Salvation Army's international headquarters, Commissioner Barry Swanson.

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Dr Doughty said he had witnessed and endured 10 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, even torture.

''The pain from these events haunts me seven days a week, 24 hours a day,'' he said.

''The pain builds up, like rust in a metal water pipe. Its first trickle is about being alone and helpless.''

But he said the Salvation Army had offered ex-gratia payments of $5000 to $20,000 and required victims to sign release and confidentiality undertakings.

The Salvation Army did not want a repetition of a $1.6 million out-of-court settlement with victims of a paedophile former officer, William Ellis, who was convicted in April last year.

Jim Luthy, 59, a victim who was at the Gill Memorial Home from 1964-66, said he had instigated the apology by writing to the head of the Salvation Army, General Shaw Clifton.

Mr Luthy said the ''Gill'' had been classified as one of the worst children's homes in the country. ''It has been described as a 'template for inhumanity', as a place which destroys the lives and happiness and aspirations of any person who entered.

''It was like Auschwitz. There was a constant fear. But at that time, if you said you were bashed by a Salvation Army officer, or by a Christian Brother, who would believe you?''

Mr Luthy, who will give an address at the apology, said he had been given two ex-gratia payments, one of $50,000 and another of $20,000. He had also signed a release whereby he would not take action, or further action, against the Salvation Army, and had signed a confidentiality agreement.

Major Peter Sutcliffe, the Salvation Army's territorial communications officer, said the Salvation Army recognised that there had been shortfalls in the treatment of children in its care in the past.

''The Salvation Army has been proactive in encouraging those who feel they suffered abuse in our children's homes to come forward and we have been working with Care Leavers Australia Network and issued apologies in 2004 and last year.

He said Dr Doughty was aware that the Salvation Army had made ex-gratia payments that were higher than those he had mentioned, ''because of what has been offered to him''.

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