Christian Brothers pay out $20 million to Aussie abuse victims

The Christian Brothers have paid more than A$20 million to victims of sexual and physical abuse in Australia.

The figure was revealed at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse at hearings in Perth on May 6.

The payments by the order and Catholic Church insurance were made to 531 people, usually former child migrants brought to Australia from the United Kingdom and Malta, the Daily Telegraph reported.

A  Christian Brothers’ historian has identified 70 brothers around Australia who had had complaints made against them.

This mainly involved sexual offences against boys between 1919 and 1969.

There were 18 brothers who were repeat offenders.

But from 1945, not one brother was expelled from the order, the Royal Commission was told.

According to an ABC report, the Christian Brothers who ran children’s homes in Western Australia in 1940s to 1960s did not consider the abuse of students a crime.

Br Anthony Shanahan, a former province leader of the Christian Brothers in WA, told the hearing the mindset at the time meant abuse was thought of mainly as a moral fault or failing.

“I think they saw it as something that was abhorrent, harmful – although I don’t think they understood it as harmful in the way we would now, in terms of consequences for the victim . . .” he said.

The chair of the commission, Justice Peter McClellan, described this attitude as “somewhat extraordinary”.

Br Shanahan said brothers who had been accused of abusing students at boarding houses were often sent to day schools.

When asked by Justice McClellan whether it was wise for brothers who abused children to be moved to another facility where children were present, Br Shanahan answered “no”.

Br Shanahan told the hearing that between 1947 and 1968 there were no written policies for the order relating to child protection, the handling of abuse complaints or the disciplining of alleged offenders.

He said a complaints process was developed in the 1990s as the order became aware of allegations.

Sources

News category: World.

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