Presbyterian, Methodist, Salvation Army now included in Royal Commission

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse in care is now turning its attention to several Protestant churches and closed faith communities.

The Royal Commission is extending its Anglican enquiry investigation and will now be known as the Protestant and Other Faiths Investigation.

As well as adding the Presbyterian and Methodist and the Salvation Army churches, the Gloriavale, the Exclusive Brethren and Jehovah’s Witness communities are now included.

The Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army faiths engaged in care provision throughout the Royal Commission’s 1950-1999 period of inquiry.

The Commission will consider evidence of abuse, which includes physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse and neglect.

It will also consider the impacts of such abuse and any structural, systemic or practical factors which contributed to abuse, and consider domestic and international law including human rights law.

There won’t be public hearings, but findings of the expanded investigation will be released before June next year.

A spokesperson for the Commission said expanding the investigation recognises the large numbers of people from each organisation willing to pass on information.

“The scope is being formally extended to recognise increased numbers of survivors from these faiths and their institutions – including schools and care homes – who have disclosed abuse to the Royal Commission.”

Expansion opens door to some uncertainty

The expansion of the Royal Commission’s interest raises the level of uncertainty around Auckland’s Dilworth School.

To date the school has supported old boy survivors wanting to contact the Police or Royal Commission regarding experiences from their time at the school.

Media reports say the school has engaged leading human rights lawyer Frances Joychild QC to lead an independent Inquiry into Historical Abuse at the “associated Anglican school,” however in a statement to CathNews, the school clarifies that “Ms Joychild QC was recommended to Dilworth School by the Dilworth Class Action Group.

“No appointment has yet been made to head the Independent Inquiry.”

The school however remains committed to an independent inquiry.

“The Dilworth Trust Board remains committed to launching an Independent Inquiry into historical abuse at the School, as well as a Redress Programme for Old Boy survivors. We continue to work towards launching both programmes in the coming months,” says Dilworth Trust Board Chairman, Aaron Snodgrass.

The school’s Junior Campus New Boy Handbook 2019 says it is “the founder’s will requires the Dilworth Trustees to give the beneficiaries of the Trust a Christian education based on the tenets of the Anglican Church.”

It says all its students receive religious education, baptism preparation and confirmation courses.

A second instance of uncertainty concerns the ‘missing’ report from Otago Daily Times reporter Chris Morris.

In 2020, ODT newsroom sources told Stuff that Morris was working on a story involving allegations centred around a Dunedin high school, that the story was laid out for printing but was pulled at the last minute.

Morris’ Twitter account continues to have his 2020 resignation tweet pinned to the top of his Twitter page.

Today, after six months bashing my head against a brick wall, trying without success to get a worthy story published, I quit my job at @odtnews in protest. To say I’m gutted would be an understatement, but I feel the need to stand up for some basic journalistic principles.”

How to contact the Commission

The Commission is encouraging any other survivors who have not already spoken to them to get in touch.

“We continue to ask survivors to come forward. Further evidence gathered will add to our existing evidence base and understanding of abuse in these faiths, and findings about them will be included in the Royal Commission’s Interim Faith report.”

“Survivors who want to share experiences about abuse by any of these faiths are encouraged to call us confidentially on 0800 222 727 or register on our website and we will phone you.”


CathNews is primarily an aggregation service; it relies on public media sources. Sections of this article have been amended in line with information provided directly by Dilworth School.

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