Chapter 7 - Responsibility, acknowledgement and apology
The problem is no one is owning
up to the responsibility when duty of care was broken. Not the government, not
the church...ultimately they both had a duty of care when they took me from my
parents and made me a ward of the state.
Issues related to responsibility for past abuse and
neglect and the development of measures of reparations go to the heart of the
concerns of victims of institutional abuse. This chapter discusses issues
related to the responsibility for state wards in institutional and out-of-home
care and the role of governments and non-government bodies in the care of these
children. The chapter then discusses issues related to the need for an
acknowledgment and/or apology by governments and the Churches and agencies for
past abuse or harm experienced by children whilst in institutional and
out-of-home care. The Committee was repeatedly told that for many care leavers
an acknowledgment of past wrongs would facilitate a degree of emotional and psychological
healing and confirm that their experiences in care are at last 'believed' and
Measures of reparation available to care leavers through
the court system and alternative redress arrangements through compensation
schemes, internal Church-sponsored redress arrangements and victim's
compensation tribunals are discussed in the following chapter.
Role and responsibility of governments and non-government bodies
Historically, legislative responsibility for child
protection in Australia
has rested primarily with the States and Territories - there is no legislative
power over children or child protection in the Commonwealth Constitution.
The legal status of children placed in institutional
and other forms of care varied depending on whether a child was placed in care
by its natural or adoptive parents acting voluntarily in a private capacity, or
by the State acting in accordance with statutory provisions. In the case of
voluntary admissions to care, the legal guardianship of the child remained with
the natural parents. However, guardianship of a child could be transferred
voluntarily from the parent or other guardian to the State as a result of an
application by, or with the consent of, a child's parents or custodian. Once a
declaration or court order was made in this way it could not be revoked or
cancelled merely because the parents or guardians of the child wished him or
her to be returned. For children admitted to care involuntarily, the legal
guardianship of the child was generally transferred from the child's parents or
guardians to the State.
Children placed under the guardianship - custody, care
and control - of the State, excluding adoption and immigration cases, had as
their legal guardian the Minister, Director or other official of a State
welfare department. In these cases the guardianship of the child was conferred
on the Minister or his delegate under State legislation. Legislative
arrangements governing the State guardianship of children varied from jurisdiction
to jurisdiction as did the policies and practices followed by State welfare
departments in the administration of their statutory provisions relating to
guardianship. In general, the guardian of the child was granted extensive
authority to make major decisions affecting the child. The transfer of the
child's legal guardianship from his or her natural parents did not necessarily
mean, however, that the child's guardian had the actual physical care and
control of the child. This was most commonly the case for children placed under
the guardianship of the State where the legal authority over the child was
vested in the relevant Minister or the Minister's delegate but where the actual
day-to-day care was provided by others.
As noted above, legislative arrangements in relation to
State guardianship varied between the States. Children were either placed in
State-run institutions or foster care or institutions operated by the Churches
or charitable groups.
In NSW, the Public
Institutions Inspection Act 1866 made all charitable institutions that
received government grants subject to inspection. In the same year, the Industrial Schools Act 1866 authorised
the Colonial Secretary to remove children from private to public industrial
schools or vice versa, and to substitute court-ordered care at a public
industrial school with care at a private industrial school. The private institutions
were subject to inspection and were eligible for public funds, and children
sent there were subject to the 'custody and control' of the manager of the institution.
Although any overriding state guardianship was not at first spelt out the
Colonial Secretary's power to remove children from private institutions
indicates continuing responsibility. Both
Acts were repealed in 1901.
Under the Child
Welfare Act 1939 (NSW), which was in force until 1987, there was a similar
provision to send children to private institutions, and the responsibility of
the state for wards was spelt out:
9(1) Notwithstanding any other law relating to the guardianship
or custody of children the Minister shall be and become the guardian of every
child or young person who becomes a ward to the exclusion of the parent or
other guardian and shall continue to be such guardian until the child or young
person ceases to be a ward.
under the Child Welfare Act 1928, the
Secretary of the Children's Welfare Department was the guardian of any child
admitted to the care of the Department until the child reached the age of 18
years of age, or in certain cases 21 years of age. The Minister was empowered
to place children in approved children's homes, and these homes were subject to
inspection. Compared to other States, the child welfare system in Victoria
historically relied more heavily on the provision of services by charitable and
church-based agencies. The Children's
Welfare Act 1954 gave the government the power to establish its own institutions
for the care of children. Non-government institutions were required to be
registered with the Children's Welfare Department. These 'approved children's
homes' were to maintain adequate standards of care and were subject to
One witness described the arrangements in Victoria
in the following terms:
Relationships between the Children's Welfare Department and the
voluntary organisations had grown out of events of the 19th century.
Mostly the State limited its involvement in voluntary homes to that of
exercising power to approve or disapprove of them and to making per capita
grants for the children. Institutions were regularly inspected and reviews were
made of the physical care of State wards. But the contact had been essentially
In Queensland the State
Children Act 1911 provided that the Director should 'have the care, management,
and control of the person of all State children, whether inmates of an
institution or placed out or apprenticed, until such children attain the age of
eighteen years' and that the Director should be the guardian of all State
children. The Children's Services Act
1965 gave the Director of the Department of Children's Services supervision
of the staffing of licensed institutions, supervision of their standard of care
and a general power of direction over them.
In Western Australia the State Children's Act 1907 provided that the Secretary of the State
Children Department should 'have the care, management, and control of the
persons and property of all State children' and that children committed to the
care of the Department could be 'detained in an institution', which included
subsidised institutions and religious institutions. The State Children's Act
and the subsequent Child Welfare Act 1947
set out Departmental responsibilities for the care and protection of children
in the state, and established that institutions providing out-of-home care be
regulated and inspected. Under the
Child Welfare Act the Department was responsible for 'the placing out and
supervision of Wards of the Department in institutions and in private homes
with foster-parents'. Younger children were to be boarded out with foster
parents wherever possible, with older children usually placed in institutions
'established by the various religious bodies for the care and betterment of
child life. These institutions are subsidised on a per capita basis by the
Government and the Department has the right of inspection from time to time'.
In South Australia the Maintenance Act 1926 authorised the Children's Welfare and Public
Relief Board to send children to private institutions, but specified that the
children would remain under the 'custody and control' of the Board until they
reach the age of 18 years, and that institutions were under the supervision of
the Board. The Community Welfare Act 1972
provided for licensed children's homes, and authorised the Minister to place
children in those homes, but specified that the child was 'under the care and
control of the Minister' until the child reached the age of 18 years.
In Tasmania, under the Children of the State Act 1918, the Secretary of the Children of
the State Department was the guardian of such children until they reached the
age of 17 years, or in some cases 21 years, but while children were in
certified private institutions, the powers of the Secretary as guardian were
exercisable by the managers of those institutions. Inspections of the
institutions were performed under regulations. Under the Child Welfare Act 1960, approved children's homes were subject to
inspection, and received a regular payment for each ward. Guardianship of wards
of the state remained with the Director for as long as they were wards.
Duty of care
Issues relating to the responsibility for the care of
children placed in institutions were discussed extensively in evidence. As
noted above, legislation in the various States provided that the Minister or
head of the relevant welfare department remained the guardian of state wards
until they reached a certain age. However day-to-day care of children whether
in State-run or Church-run institutions involved the management and staff of
these institutions. One witness, who is undertaking postgraduate research into
state wardship in Victoria,
stated that ultimately responsibility rested with the State:
...if I were to say where responsibility for state wards lies, I
would tend to say that the state holds responsibility because of the
legislative definitions. It defines which children come into care and which
children do not come into care, so it legislates that responsibility. It
selects wards. It sets up the system which says "You will be a ward; you
will not be a ward". It selects the institutional destinations of wards -
it says where these children are to go. It funds institutions. It knows it is
funding these institutions, so it is responsible in that respect. It is paying
institutions in return for a service...it inspected the institutions, not
necessarily the children in the institutions.
Legislative arrangements in the States often imposed statutory
obligations in relation to food, clothing, education and corporal punishment of
children in institutions. For example, in Queensland
both the State Children Act 1911 and the
Children's Services Act 1965 required
that children should be adequately fed, clothed and cared for. Excessive
physical and emotional punishment was forbidden by persons and institutions who
held children in their charge. See also
Submissions from several Churches also recognised that
in addition to the State Governments the Churches also had a 'duty of care'.
Catholic Welfare Australia stated that while the 'ultimate responsibility' for
former children in institutional care lay with State Governments 'this is not
overlooking the responsibilities placed on those organisations, which had a
"duty of care" in the day-to-day policies and practices that affected
the quality of life for the children'. UnitingCare
Victoria and Tasmania stated that while State Governments had a responsibility
'as the legal guardian or custodian of many of the children and young people
and also in their role as the regulator of substitute care facilities', the
agencies also had a responsibility due to their involvement 'as either the day
to day carers of the children on behalf of the State or, in other cases, as the
carers of privately placed children'.
Submissions and other evidence to the inquiry
indicated, as discussed in chapter 4, that in many instances there was a
failure in the duty of care in providing for the basics of life, including
adequate food, clothing and access to education. Living conditions in many
institutions were basic and in many cases substandard. Serious breaches in the
duty of care were evident in the appalling levels of emotional and physical
abuse and assault that were allowed to continue unchecked over a lengthy period
of time in a number of institutions.
Evidence by care leavers displayed a deep sense of
disillusionment and betrayal at what they saw as the abrogation by the State
authorities and/or the Churches in their duty of care obligations.
The state governments put some of the children into their own
institutions and promptly wiped their hands of the children. How did the state
employees act? They raped and they sodomised the girls. They sodomised the boys....The
offenders had no action taken against them. These state employees, guards of
these child prisoners, bashed, tormented and humiliated the little children
All state and church institutions must be held accountable for
the hurt and pain. The duty of care of governments and non government agencies
who ran children's homes is that they have a moral and ethical obligation to
implement support services for their past residents, who are still coming to
terms with their issues. (Sub 33)
I believe there is no basis for a government and a church
organisation to pass the buck between each other. The state says, "We put
them into church organisations; we thought they'd be all right". And the
church says, "We didn't know; we employed those people". Well, tough
luck, because somebody had a duty of care and somebody ignored it.
The government, and in our case Wesley,
are answerable as to "Why"? There has to be some form of redress with
this...The government needs to apologise for not fulfilling its duty of care in
making sure about and policing these institutions, because they were not
Provisions existed in most States for regular
inspections of institutions and the monitoring of the welfare of the children
in institutional care, though the periods varied between the States and over
different time periods. Evidence to the inquiry indicated that the extent and
effectiveness of inspections varied considerably between States.
A particularly disturbing feature in Victoria was that
prior to the introduction of the Children's
Welfare Act 1954 there was no formal requirement for inspections of
non-government children's institutions as these institutions were not required
to be registered with the welfare department. The Victorian Government conceded
The system, until the 1950s, was based on the flawed assumption that
state wards would be placed in foster care and that charitable children's homes
would only accommodate children placed voluntarily by their parents.
There was an informal process of, largely perfunctory, 'visits'
to state wards in these institutions where some assessment was made of the
physical health of the children but the management and standards of care in
these institutions was not subject to inspection. Even when regular inspection
of children's homes began in the late 1950s the standards of care to be
maintained in these homes were not legislatively defined - the Victorian
Government again conceding that this was a 'weakness' in the legislation.
In New South Wales
a similarly unsatisfactory situation existed. A former NSW government inspector
noted that the licensing system for non-State homes (licensed under s.28 of the
Child Welfare Act 1939) only required
that children under the age of seven be subject to inspections. Thus older
children in these homes were exempt from this requirement. The Committee asked the
witness about the inspections undertaken.
Senator HUMPHRIES -
Did you interview children one on one in any of those places?
Mr Quinn - No, because that was not part
of the licensing system. I certainly looked at any children under the age of
seven...I would have to admit that there certainly were no one-on-one interviews
alone. That was not the practice in those days.
Senator HUMPHRIES -
Were you not expected to do that, or was it against departmental regulations?
Mr Quinn - It was not part of the system,
as I understand it. But the older children were outside the licensing regimen.
Senator HUMPHRIES -
And there was no-one who inspected in respect of them?
Mr Quinn - Not to my knowledge, no. That
practice dates from the turn of the century. Licensing was brought in in
relation to small children.
Inspections by welfare officers were often superficial
and more concerned with the physical structure of the buildings than the children's'
welfare. One witness, who has studied state wardship in Victoria,
...on the issue of inspection reports...they are inspections of the
institutions, not of the children in the institutions. The condition for
approval and funding was that the institution had to be inspected, not the
children in its care. The conclusion I draw from that is that there was a
belief that if the institution was all right and
was meeting the regulated requirements then it must be providing suitable care.
A study of Victorian orphanages stated that even in the
1950s inspections of institutions were viewed by government authorities as a
'sop to reforming noises' and were not intended to have 'real teeth'. In the
case of Victoria,
which relied on voluntary institutions to house its wards, the study argued
that the authorities did not 'dare to upset those institutions' with
unfavourable inspection reports. The study noted the comments of a former
inspector who recounted that inspections were 'left entirely up to us [as to]
what we did and how we went about it'.
In Western Australia,
the Department for Community Development stated that existing records indicate
that that the Child Welfare Department maintained regular inspections of
institutions, and that there are examples of comprehensive inspections.
Examples of inspections reports from the 1940s and 1950s are provided. The
reports are generally concerned with the physical conditions of the buildings and
often contain only basic or superficial comments on the health and well-being
of the residents. For example, an inspection report on Tardun in 1957 noted
that 'during my visit I had the opportunity to speak to a number of boys, they
all appeared happy in their surroundings...conditions at this College are
Accounts by care leavers of inspections that were
undertaken are quite varied, with a general view that such visits were carefully
staged managed and the children were not allowed to talk one-on-one with visiting
...the standards of inspections of institutions in my time leave
me gobsmacked. The inspection that we underwent once a year was perfunctory, to
say the least...The kinds of things that were commonly reported - often in no
more than one sentence - were "He looks after his teeth", "He
needs glasses", "He wears glasses", or "He's a fine
boy". There was never any opportunity to discuss with the so-called inspectors
what was going on in your life and how you felt about it...In fact, one risked
a box over the ears if one raised that sort of question with the wrong staff
member at the wrong time. So the inspections were never concerned with the psyche,
the emotions or the feelings of the child; they were about your teeth or what
grade you were in. We knew what grade we were in.
Even when welfare officers met with children there
appeared to be little follow-up action with respect to complaints made.
...they used to have a welfare officer who would come in once a
year. He always interviewed each and every one of us at the Box Hill Boys Home
about how we were treated et cetera...Even then, even as a young child, I would
wait and wait and wait and see if anything changed, but it didn't. They were aware
of it...They were aware of what was going on - the mistreatment of kids. That was
our only hope. We told them what we thought, how we felt and what was
happening, but it fell on deaf ears. I used to think: why? (Sub 296)
The Committee received similar evidence regarding
inspections in the child migrants inquiry. The Committee's view expressed at
that time has only been reinforced by the further evidence during this inquiry:
The Committee considers that in many instances, based on the
documentary evidence available to it, the level of inspections undertaken and
the consideration of the welfare of the children in the institution appear to
have been at best basic and often deficient.
A serious deficiency was the lack of complaints
procedures available to children who might have wished to complain about
conditions or their treatment in institutions. The Forde
Inquiry also commented that a common fault in residential institutions in Queensland
prior to the 1970s was the absence of complaints mechanisms for children
dissatisfied with aspects of their treatment.
There were no ways of making complaints about our poor treatment
and the system often appeared to try to crush us rather than help us. (Sub 245)
State Wards suffered the most as they had no family to complain
to and no one to confront the staff. I would have to write a book to even begin
to detail all the injustices that were commonplace in the institutions. (Sub
Evidence from care leavers indicated that the authorities
in the institutions made it clear that candid reporting of the actual conditions
and/or mistreatment suffered were not to be made to visiting welfare officials
for fear of further punishment.
I remember going down to the shower blocks and Sangster
said to each and every one of us, "If any of you kids say anything about
how I'm running this organisation or how I run it, I'll know about it because
the reports come back to me". So I thought to myself, well, there would be
a lot of kids that would not even say anything. (Sub 296)
Ben had only been there [Tamworth Boys Home] about two months
and he complained long, hard and bitterly about his treatment...The Minister
[from the welfare department] opened the office door and called the guard in,
telling him to escort this compulsive liar to solitary confinement and not to
release him until he learned to tell the truth. Blows rained down upon Ben
while the Minister stood by. As Ben was dragged
by his feet from the office and down the stairs Ben
yelled to the other boys waiting to be interviewed, "Don't complain, Don't
complain!" This resulted in another beating.
Some care leavers claimed that they never saw a welfare
officer - even former residents that spent long periods of time in particular
At no time during my period of detention [from 1963 to 1971] at St.
did I witness any monitoring and auditing of the conditions there by the
Victorian Government. (Sub 385)
Never in all the time that I was at Dalmar - or, I believe, in
the whole 14 years from 1949, when he was the superintendent - did anyone
ever come from the welfare department. And we were wards of the state. Where
Where were the Children's Services during my time at St.
from 1963-1968. I never saw them, not once! I want to know why. I was the
States child, never in those five years did anyone representing the Government
speak to me and ask how I was doing. (Sub 111)
A telling indictment of the ineffectiveness of
inspections and the monitoring by the States is the lack of recorded breaches
of statutory obligations. The WA Department for Community Development stated
that existing records of the Child Welfare Department contain no evidence of
breaches of statutory obligations. The
Committee, however, received many instances of extreme abuse and neglect in
Western Australian institutions. A former employee of the NSW Department of
Community Services stated that he was 'unable to find a single instance of
anyone being charged criminally with assaulting an inmate of an institution [in
NSW], even though there was provision in the legislation from 1905'. The same
witness described the 'inhumane and illegal punishment' of children in several
NSW institutions, which was confirmed in other evidence to the inquiry.
Internal monitoring within
institutions was also superficial and, to a considerable extent, ineffective. Fear
was a driving element for the children in many institutions. As noted above, to
speak out on any issue would simply attract further retribution.
It wasn't long before the abuse started on me. I complained to
the Prior in charge at [St John of God's] Cheltenham. He
told me to go away. He didn't believe me. He said "stop whinging you
bastard". I was only 9 years and 8 months old. The same day I was called
to go to the front office. He was there. He punched me in the face and said
"you asshole". (Sub 130)
In relation to Catholic institutions, Dr Coldrey stated
if complaints were investigated by a Superior, denial by a Brother accused of a
wrongdoing usually meant his word against that of a boy, and no action against
the Brother in question - 'occasional episodes of malicious accusations and
suspicion of the reliability of orphanage boys tended to count against taking a
boy's word against that of a Brother when there was no further evidence'.
Similar inadequate processes were in place in other
institutions. In relation to Dalmar, one care leaver recounted a visit to the
institution from the committee of the Central Methodist Mission:
[We] were told only to answer "yes" or "no"
to questions. The committee from Central Methodist Mission would come up at
Open Day and the children would sing on the stage. Then the committee would
walk around the cottage for five minutes. The children would line up in that
cottage and the committee would pat them on the head and ask them, "Are
you happy?" or "Do you know who is giving you the roof over your
head?" or "Do you know who is supplying the food that you eat?"
The children would say "Yes" and "Yes" - and the committee
would move on.
Another care leaver recalled the lack of monitoring at
the WR Black Home in Brisbane
operated by the Presbyterian Church:
We were told regularly, "You are here because nobody wants
you but the good Church is now looking after you". Unfortunately,
"The Good Church", as far as I know, never spoke to any of us
"One on One". We would have been too frightened to say anything,
anyway! (Sub 409)
The Committee considers that duty of care was lacking
in several fundamental areas in relation to children in institutional care - in
respect of the adequate provision for the basic needs of children, that is,
adequate food, clothing and nurture; and the horrendous levels of physical, sexual
and emotional abuse that were allowed to occur while these children were in
care. Equally disturbing is the fact that such abuse was able to continue
unchecked over so many years.
The inspection and monitoring of institutions, that
should have detected inadequate provision of basic care and other serious
violations of care, was grossly inadequate. The Committee considers that in
many instances, based on the documentary evidence available to it, the level of
inspections undertaken and the consideration of the welfare of the children in
the institutions appear to have been at best basic and in numerous cases
deficient. Internal processes within institutions were also grossly inadequate.
The lack of a complaints mechanism available to children within institutions
also contributed to a system where adequate levels of care were often not
Evidence clearly demonstrates a failure in their duty
of care by those involved at all levels of the administration of institutional
care arrangements. The inadequate levels of monitoring and buck passing of
responsibilities appeared endemic at all levels. The Committee believes that
these failures of duty of care and the unfortunate circumstances in which many
former care leavers now find themselves is a shared responsibility of
governments - and the Churches, religious orders and agencies - who were
negligent in their caring responsibilities. However, the individual
responsibility of those who were actually in charge of the children must never
Acceptance and denial of responsibility
Evidence to the Committee indicated that while some State
Governments and religious authorities and agencies have accepted responsibility
for forms of neglect and abuse of children in their care in institutions - at
least to some extent - others appear reluctant to accept these
responsibilities. Often admissions of neglect or abuse are heavily qualified
and reference is often made to prevailing conditions and standards of care at
State Governments have adopted varying stances with
respect to the question of responsibility for forms of neglect and abuse within
institutions. Witnesses noted that it is often difficult to get State
Governments to face up to their responsibilities in this regard.
The Queensland Government has formally apologised for
instances of past abuse and neglect in Queensland
institutions. In August 1999 the Government and the responsible religious
authorities in that State issued an apology that included the following
We sincerely apologise to all those people who suffered in any
way while resident in our facilities, and express deep sorrow and regret at the
hurt and distress suffered by those who were victims of abuse.
The Victorian Government, while acknowledging that some
abuse occurred in institutions in Victoria,
also placed considerable weight on consideration of prevailing standards of the
day and the resources available at the time.
In the past, some children were abused and neglected while in
care, and a larger number of children were subjected to standards of care which
would not be considered adequate by today's standards. However, it is also
important to recognise that the people who cared for children in the past,
either in children's homes or in their own homes, generally did so as well as
they could in the circumstances of the times, and that auspice organisations
for children's homes and foster care programs generally sought to provide the
type of care which they believed to be best...Care provision and its quality
have changed over time in response to changing attitudes and knowledge,
concerns identified and resources available.
However, the Victorian Government submission attracted some
criticism with one witness commenting that 'I have never seen such a sanitised
submission as the one put in by the Victorian Government, and it obviously was
sent to the Solicitor-General to work through before it was signed off by
whoever the minister is'.
The WA Department for Community Development, while not
directly addressing the issue of the State's responsibility for abuse in
institutions, emphasised that regular inspections of institutions were
undertaken and stated that the historical records of the Department 'contain
little information on unsafe, improper or unlawful care or treatment of
children in out-of-home care' adding however that the records held by the
Department are incomplete or in some cases non-existent. The
Department noted that a review of extant historical records of the Child
Welfare Department contain no evidence of breaches of statutory obligations. The
Committee notes, however, that as the monitoring by State authorities,
especially through inspections, was largely ineffective in uncovering possible
breaches of statutory obligations it is not surprising that no breaches were recorded.
Similarly, the Churches, religious orders and agencies
have adopted varying approaches, usually from reticence to denial, towards
accepting responsibility for conditions in institutions and acknowledging past
The Salvation Army stated that instances of abuse were
'rare' in its institutions:
We acknowledge that in Salvation Army institutions established
or licensed under relevant legislation as providers of care for children, sadly
there have been some instances where unsafe, improper or unlawful care or
treatment has occurred. The Salvation Army takes these instances very
seriously. However, such occurrences have been relatively rare and not endemic
to our services.
The Committee notes,
however, that the overwhelming majority of submissions to this inquiry from ex-residents
of Salvation Army institutions in all States reported negative experiences in
these institutions, often citing cases of extreme forms of physical, sexual and
emotional abuse. The Committee believes that there has been a notable reluctance
by the Salvation Army to acknowledge past practices, in particular the nature
and extent of abuse in its institutions.
stated that care was in accordance with prevailing standards at the time:
Whilst some of the practices of the past have not served
children well, we believe that Barnardos services have acted in the best
intention towards any child in institutional care. Some criminal activity did
take place, but to the best of our belief that has been dealt with in the
criminal justice system. However we believe that Barnardos attempted to
maintain a standard of care which was in keeping with "good practice" in child rearing at the time.
Catholic Welfare Australia,
the peak body representing Catholic welfare organisations and an organ of the
Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, noted that standards of care needed to
be judged in the context of the times:
In hindsight Catholic organisations did play a role in the
implementation of government policies and legislation, which meant children
were placed in "out of home care". These organisations, under the
circumstances, provided the best they could which unfortunately caused distress
for some children.
The Christian Brothers, while acknowledging that 'some
horrific acts of emotional, physical and sexual abuse took place in particular
institutions in particular eras', noted however that 'it is clear to the
Christian Brothers that the majority of men who passed through our institutions
received a quality of care appropriate to the era, obtained a good education
and moved on to a good family life and good employment'.
The Committee questioned the Order as to what evidence
it had to substantiate this last statement. The Provincial of the Order argued
that the statement was based on 'fairly substantiated anecdotal evidence' from
attending gatherings of former students and discussions with former students
over many years.
The Committee notes, however, that many former residents of these institutions are
too traumatised to have any further contact with the Christian Brothers or
their former institutions thus the 'sample' of ex-residents would not be
representative of all former residents. The Committee also notes that a
particularly common feature of Christian
Brothers' institutions was their failure to
provide a proper education for many ex-residents. The Committee also received
many submissions from ex-residents of these institutions, both in this inquiry
and the child migrants inquiry, attesting to a life full of trauma, emotional
problems and poverty.
MacKillop Family Services, commented that in respect of
former Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of St Joseph and Christian Brothers
institutions in Melbourne 'we acknowledge that the policies and practices in
institutional care in the last century had a detrimental impact on many of
those who grew up in these institutions...It is also important to record the
positive contributions of the past, given the danger of broad generalizations
and Tasmania stated that in relation
to former Methodist and Presbyterian homes operating in Victoria,
'the balance between positive and negative perceptions of those who experienced
care in the variety of settings is difficult to estimate'.
Mission acknowledged that a number of former
residents have alleged abuse or unduly harsh treatment during their time with
Dalmar. Wesley Mission
The perception of these experiences varies - some seeing it as
common to parenting practices at the time, others seeing it as unacceptable and
harmful to their long-term development. Positive stories are heard as often as
negative ones, and often they are mixed.
Anglicare Victoria, while not directly commenting on
the issue of responsibility, argued that there has been a concentration in the
media and elsewhere on abuse within institutions relative to other settings and
that instead of 'laying blame' the community needs to support families in the
I think we need to put this whole debate [on institutional
abuse] into some perspective...95 per cent of abuse and neglect occurs in the
family home, not in institutions. The focus has been very much on institutions
because, in a sense, we can be easily targeted and examined.
The Committee questioned Anglicare as to whether they
accepted that adults who suffered harm whilst in institutions in the past were
entitled to pursue justice and seek redress. Anglicare agreed with this
proposition. The Committee wishes to emphasise that Churches and agencies need
to address both the wrongs of the
past as well as the challenges of the present.
Some organisations were more transparent in recognising
that abuse did occur in their institutions without seeking to minimise its
impact or extent. UnitingCare Burnside
...unfortunately many instances have been shown, with the benefit
of hindsight, where children who were supposed to have been provided with care
outside of the family have been subjected to a range of abusive and neglectful
manifestations of care.
The United Protestant Association of NSW noted that
several instances of alleged abuse have been raised with the organisation. The
UPA acknowledged that abuse occurred in its homes and stated that the
Association 'unreservedly apologises to any former children in UPA care who may
have suffered harm'. The Association has established a policy of direct support
for any child in UPA care - 'we treat each person individually, seeking to
assist and meet their needs'. The
Association noted that compassion is needed in response to cases of institutional
abuse - 'too often there is a defensiveness that creeps in, both at a
government and at a non-government agency level. It is entirely inappropriate'.
One organisation stated that no instances of any improper
care or instances of neglect occurred in its homes. Mofflyn, which operated a
number of former Methodist homes, stated that, based on an examination of its
available records, 'there has not been any unsafe, improper or unlawful care or
treatment of children at Mofflyn. Further we have not identified any serious
breach of any relevant statutory obligation at any time when children were in
care or under the protection of Mofflyn'.
Evidence to the Committee, as described in the chapter
on the treatment and care of children in institutions, demonstrates that many
of these comments by Churches and care providers reveal a complete lack of
understanding or acceptance of the level of neglect and abuse that occurred in
their institutions, be it in some cases primarily emotional.
The evidence further indicates that the attitude of
State Governments and religious authorities and agencies varies considerably in
the extent to which they accept responsibility for the neglect and abuse of
children under their care in the past. The Committee is disappointed that some
State Governments and Churches and agencies appear unable to acknowledge past
wrongs in an unequivocal way and believes that all governments and agencies need
to accept responsibility for the wrongs that were done to children whilst in their
care. It is only by accepting responsibility that they and the victims can move
on and that practical measures of redress can be implemented to provide victims
with a degree of closure.
The Committee notes that a number of Churches and
others have made apologies for their role in institutional abuse of
ex-residents. While these statements are of value it is essential that the
attitude of governments and the Churches is consistent with these statements of
regret and apology - both in acknowledging responsibility and in further positive
Much justification for the treatment of children in
institutions in the above comments was based on an argument that the care of
these children needs to be understood within the context of the prevailing
norms of the day. The Committee has disputed this argument in chapter 5, considering
that the many accounts it received of excessive and unwarranted assault or of
sexual assault go beyond anything that could conceivably be argued as normal
for the time - such actions were illegal then and they are illegal now.
Acknowledgment and apology
Oxford Dictionary defines an apology as a 'regretful acknowledgment of
fault or failure; assurance that no offence was intended; an explanation; or
vindication', whereas to 'acknowledge, by contrast, is to 'agree to the truth
of; own to knowing; take notice of; or recognise the authority or claims of'.
One study noted that an apology can be described as an
expression of 'deep and profound regret for causing another person serious
anguish and regret'. The study noted that an apology made for causing serious
harm to another person is a moral or ethical act, as well as an act of good
conscience and a demonstration of respect with the overall goal being to
restore dignity and social harmony.
A Senate Committee report has defined an acknowledgment
as involving a public recognition that an event happened and 'that this was the
result of policy, as well as practice, and that these policies and practices
created devastating consequences. In addition, acknowledgment involves an
acceptance of responsibility for these policies, practices and consequences'.
The report noted that an expression of acknowledgment may be seen as something
less than an apology as it is only one aspect of a complete apology.
Apologies to ex-residents
With the exception of the Queensland Government,
Australian Governments have been notoriously reluctant in issuing apologies for
their role in the abuse and harm experienced by care leavers while in their
care. Yet an overwhelming number of care leavers indicated in evidence the
importance and power that an acknowledgement or apology would have in helping their
healing process and in them moving forward.
In Queensland, the Forde Inquiry into the abuse of
children in Queensland institutions recommended that the Queensland Government
and the responsible religious authorities issue a formal apology to former
residents of Queensland institutions 'acknowledging the significant harm done
to some children in Queensland institutions'. In August
1999 the Government and the responsible religious authorities in that State
issued the apology referred to earlier in this chapter.
The Committee understands that the Tasmanian Government
is in the process of finalising the text of a formal apology in relation to
abuse allegations in that State and that that apology should be released within
In evidence to the Committee, the WA Department for
Community Development supported the issuing of an apology on behalf of the
Western Australian Government - 'anything that is going to help the healing
process for people who have been abused in care would be appropriate'. The
Department noted that in 1997 the Western Australian Government, in response to
the Bringing them home report, apologised
to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the past policies under
which indigenous children were removed from their families. In 1998 the WA
Legislative Assembly passed a motion apologising to former child migrants on
behalf of all Western Australians for past migration policies and the
subsequent maltreatment many experienced.
The Victorian Government argued that any formal
acknowledgment by State Governments of abuse and neglect of children in
institutional care 'would need to be carefully considered and would ideally
[need to] be acceptable to all state and territory governments'.
Public apologies by governments have been common in
overseas countries. In Canada both the Federal Government and various
provincial governments have apologised to Aboriginal children and/or other
children who suffered abuse while in institutional care. In May
1999, the Irish Government apologised to victims of institutional abuse in
industrial schools and orphanages. The apology, delivered by the Prime Minister,
was in the following terms:
The time has long since arrived when we must take up the
challenge which the victims of childhood abuse have given us all. A new,
comprehensive approach is required to dealing with both the effects and
prevention of this abuse. The starting point for this is simple but important:
to apologise. On behalf of the State and of all citizens of the State, the
Government wishes to make a sincere and long overdue apology to the victims of
childhood abuse for our collective failure to intervene. Abuse ruined their
childhoods and has been an ever present part of their adult lives, reminding
them of a time when they were helpless. I want to say to them that we believe
that they were gravely wronged and that we must do all we can to overcome the
lasting effects of their ordeals.
At the same time the Irish Government announced a
package of measures aimed at addressing the issue of past institutional abuse.
These measures included the establishment of the Commission to Inquire into
Child Abuse (Laffoy Commission); the establishment of counselling services
specifically dedicated to victims of past abuse; and changes to the Statutes of
Limitations in respect of sexual abuse with a review by the Law Reform
Commission of the situation with respect to physical abuse.
In the Australian context, a number of Churches and
Catholic religious Orders involved in the care of children in institutions have
made formal statements of apology and regret acknowledging abuse of children
while under their care. Similar apologies have been made by Churches in
overseas countries. In Canada, for example, the four Churches involved in the
residential schooling of Aboriginal children have made public apologies. In Ireland,
the Sisters of Mercy issued an unreserved apology in May 2004 acknowledging
abuse of children in its care. The Order had apologised previously but admitted
that that apology was seen by many victims as 'conditional and less than
complete'. Other Catholic religious orders have also issued apologies.
the Catholic Church, as part of its Towards
Healing process, has apologised for abuse in Catholic institutional care
and other settings.
As bishops and leaders of religious institutes of the Catholic
Church in Australia, we acknowledge with deep sadness and regret that a number
of clergy and religious have abused children, adolescents and adults who have
been in their pastoral care. To these victims we offer our sincere apology.
A number of Catholic religious Orders have also issued
separate apologies. In July 1993, the Christian Brothers acknowledged that
physical and sexual abuse took place in their institutions in Western Australia
and published a statement of apology to former residents who had been in their
care. The apology stated, inter alia,
...the fact that such physical and sexual abuse took place at
all in some of our institutions cannot be excused and is for us a source of
deep shame and regret. Such abuse violates the child's dignity and sense of
self-worth...We, the Christian Brothers
of today, therefore unreservedly apologise to those individuals who were
victims in these institutions.
In 1997, the Sisters of Mercy in Rockhampton and the
Catholic diocese of Rockhampton also issued a public apology for abuses that
occurred to children under their care.
The Salvation Army has issued a number of formal
apologies acknowledging abuse of children under its care. An apology was issued
in August 2003 in relation to abuse allegations in the ABC's Four Corners program. The Salvation Army
We have apologised in the 4 Corners program to the people who
have come forward and acknowledged the severe and tragic impact that this
betrayal of trust has on the lives of those who have been abused by people with
power over them.
The Salvation Army recently issued an apology to residents
of its Riverview home in Queensland,
the spokesman noting that there was 'inappropriate behaviour and activities and
we have apologised for that'.
A number of submissions commented on the conditional
nature of Salvation Army apologies and their failure to fully acknowledge past
The Committee notes that in the apology given in relation to the Four Corners abuse allegations, the
Salvation Army appeared not to fully recognise the extent of past failures of
care. The statement noted that:
We believe that the great wrong that was done to children abused
in our care is that they were abused while the
majority of children in our care were having life enriching experiences,
making their trauma all the more difficult to bear.
The Salvation Army has also issued personal apologies
to individuals who have come forward with abuse allegations. In its submission
to this inquiry the organisation stated that 'the Salvation Army itself regrets
the human anguish arising from any abuse and neglect suffered by children while
in its care'.
Barnardos stated at a Committee hearing that 'we give
an unreserved apology for any abuse that took place in Barnardos care'. Barnardos
noted that 'we understand that an acknowledgment of suffering can be helpful in
the healing process for the individual who has suffered and for those who
suffered criminal abuse or did not have their developmental needs adequately
Wesley Mission Dalmar at a Committee hearing expressed
'our deep regret and sympathy for people who were exploited and abused as part
of our care system'. The Committee questioned the organisation as to whether
this expression of regret constituted an apology on behalf of the organisation
and Wesley indicated that it did. The Wesley
Mission acknowledged that 'while in our
care, some children were beaten, exploited, kept apart from their siblings or
from visiting parents, denied educational support or raised without affection.
There may have also have been instances of sexual abuse. Wesley
Mission views all these acts as
In June 2004, the Wesley
Mission issued a statement to all past
residents of Dalmar in response to evidence given to this inquiry by these
former residents. In this statement Wesley
Mission noted, inter alia, that:
...[it] affirms the sentiments of a statement that was read into
the record on behalf of Wesley Mission
at the recent hearings. We feel deep regret and sympathy for those who suffered
during and from this period.
The statement was distributed to
all past residents with whom Wesley is in
The United Protestant Association of NSW made a public
apology in 1997 for children abused while in its homes. In its submission the
Association stated that it 'unreservedly apologises to any former children in
UPA care who may have suffered harm'.
Some agencies of the Uniting
Church have not issued formal
apologies. UnitingCare Burnside indicated to the Committee that the
organisation has not made a generic apology 'as in a statement to all people
who may have been in out-of-home care, but we do apologise both face to face
and in writing where there is a formal complaint that has gone through any sort
of process, whether that be an external investigation - of which we have only
ever had one - or whether it has been managed within the agency; and the person
has a copy of that'.
Likewise, UnitingCare Victoria
and Tasmania has not formally
apologised but indicated that it was likely to issue an official statement to
coincide with the release of this Committee's report. In its
submission UnitingCare stated that it was willing to assist anyone affected in
its care by formally acknowledging the significant pain and suffering
experienced by some former residents and 'to apologise to those adversely
affected by the provision of this care in our agencies'.
Views on the need for an apology
The Committee received a wide range of views on the
question of the need for an apology. Much evidence suggested the urgent need
for such an apology and the impact this would have in helping victims move
forward and recognise their past sufferings. Other evidence argued that for an
apology to be effective, it needed to be accompanied by practical measures of
support and assistance; while other evidence questioned the value of an
There are two types of apologies usually offered to
victims of institutional abuse - a personal, private apology or an official,
public apology. A personal apology is an interpersonal, one-on-one and usually
private transaction. It may be communicated face-to-face or by a personal
letter. An official apology tends to be more formal and is usually formulated
bearing in mind not only the sentiments of the injured parties - the direct
recipients - but also the society at large. Sometimes victims want to receive
both types of apology, sometimes they wish to receive only one or the other.
One study noted that although an official, public apology is less capable than
a personal apology of recognising the harm suffered by each individual, it can
serve a unique role - 'it has the potential to set the record straight and
restore dignity to the person or group harmed, under full, public scrutiny'.
A study prepared for the Law Commission of Canada
identified the main elements of a meaningful apology. These are:
Acknowledgment of the wrong done or naming the
offence - many victims want wrongdoers to acknowledge what they did and that it
was wrong. They are, in effect, asking the wrongdoers to admit to them that
they know they violated moral standards. Such admissions validate the injured
parties' moral sensibilities, which were violated by the wrongs done.
Accepting responsibility for the wrong that was
done - the apologiser must demonstrate to the recipient that he accepts
responsibility for what happened. By accepting responsibility, the apologiser
helps restore the confidence or trust of the injured party.
The expression of sincere regret and profound
remorse - the centrepiece of an apology is an expression of sorrow and regret.
When the apologiser expresses sincere remorse for the wrong committed or
permitted to happen, then the person receiving the apology is reassured both
that he understands the extent of the injury that was committed and therefore
will not allow it to happen again.
The assurance or promise that the wrong done
will not recur - victims need to be assured that the injury they experienced
will not happen to them, or anyone else, again. Where official, public
apologies are made, victims also want affirmation from the officials
responsible that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.
Reparation through concrete measures - following
serious wrongdoing, mere words of apology are not enough to repair damaged
relationships. Verbal apologies must be accompanied by concrete measures, such
as financial compensation, counselling and other measures. These measures help
translate the static message of an apology into an active process of
reconciliation and healing. Official apologies, in particular, need to be
accompanied by direct and immediate actions.
Many of those who seek or have received apologies expect
that they will contain the elements identified in the Law Commission's report.
Many apologies, however, fall far short of this ideal and this can lead to
disillusionment on behalf of the intended recipients who regard such apologies as
merely expressing empty rhetoric.
Many submissions noted that a formal apology by the
Commonwealth and/or State Governments is an essential part of acknowledgment of
the harm and abuse inflicted on many individuals in institutional care, and of
the responsibility of governments and the Churches for the devastating effect
of these policies on many care leavers. Submissions also argued that an apology
can promote emotional and psychological healing among those who have been most
affected by the impact of institutional care.
As noted above, many care leavers indicated that a
formal apology was important to them as an acknowledgment of their past
treatment and recognition of their 'existence'.
I want and need a formal apology for the treatment I received...Had
I received some understanding and an apology many years ago I may not be
suffering as I do now. (Sub 20)
...a written apology [would] give me back my own self worth as a
human being having lived that life...I need this apology today to release me from
the pains of my past and to help assist me out of victimhood that I still get
when having any dealings with any government official. (Sub 386)
The government, and in our case Wesley,
are answerable as to "Why?" There has to be some form of redress with
this. We have to get some answers and a public apology. The government needs to
apologise for not fulfilling its duty of care in making sure about and policing
these institutions, because they were not policed.
...I have no family directly because of what happened to us back
then. I do not know why they were allowed to treat us like that. Why? We want
recognition as human beings, and I think we should get an apology from someone.
I beg the Government to Compensate us for the past even if only
a public apology and improve the care and needs of state wards today. (Sub 334)
Professionals working with care leavers noted the
important role apologies can have in the reconciliation process. CBERSS stated
that its clinical staff have found that acknowledgment and apology by the
Christian Brothers is an important validation and recognition of the experience
of some of its clients - 'this acknowledgment of their suffering has provided
some clients with a measure of closure'. A
counselling service - Broadening Horizons - noted that a priority for many
victims of abuse is the provision of an apology from the perpetrator or the
representative organisation (where the perpetrator may have died).
Submissions noted, however, that apologies can
sometimes be seen as merely 'gestures' that have no real substance or impact on
those who have been affected by past practices. Some care leavers disagreed
with apologies in these terms arguing that such apologies are 'meaningless' and
cannot undo the past:
...any measured reading of that [Salvation Army] apology, shows
that it was grudgingly given because they had been caught out. To me their
apology is little more than a justification for abusive practices, and an
attempt to squirm out from their moral and Christian obligations and water down
the enormity of their actions. (Sub 286)
I cannot forget, will not forgive and no apologies accepted.
I do not know that you can apologise. A piece of paper is not
going to do it. You cannot give me back my childhood and you cannot give me
back my parents, and just saying sorry does not quite cut it.
The alternative view is that this is not an important
consideration because if the apology is sincere it can have strong symbolic
value - 'the recognition of suffering, that may still continue, and a
determination to change practices in the present and future can afford some
closure and an ability to move forward'.
There is also a view that apologies can have a salutary
effect on those making the apology because it enables them to stop denying
events and to begin focussing on and dealing with the issues. The
appropriateness of current governments or religious organisations accepting
responsibility for the actions of previous administrations or church agencies
is also sometimes questioned - as is the value of apologies issued in these
The issue of whether apologies could be taken as an
admission of liability leaving an organisation open to action through the
courts from a person or persons seeking compensation was also raised in
Submissions referred to the NSW Ombudsman's advice in relation to the Civil Liability Act 2000 and the giving of
apologies. The Act provides that apologies given, in certain circumstances,
will not constitute an admission of liability, and will not be admissible in
court. These provisions do not apply to situations involving intentional torts,
such as sexual assault.
The Ombudsman's advice stated that:
The protections under the Act do not apply to all civil proceedings.
The types of civil liability that are not covered by the protection for
apologies (as set out in s.3B of the Act) can be briefly summarised as
liabilities for: (a) an intentional
violent act done with intent to cause injury or death (including sexual assault
or misconduct)...[other types listed]...An apology should not be made in any matter
that falls (or is thought to fall ) into any of the categories listed in s.3B
until legal advice has been obtained. This approach is recommended because an
apology provided in such a matter may act as an admission of liability and may
therefore breach a relevant contract of insurance.
Professor Graycar of the Law Faculty of the University
of Sydney advised the Committee that the Ombudsman's advice does not purport to
set out the general law regarding the relationship between apologies and legal
liability; it is solely confined to the legal situation under the NSW Civil
Liability Act. Professor Graycar
added that apologies and statements of regret have been offered in
institutional harm contexts both in Australia
and overseas 'which have not resulted in mass scale litigation (on the basis of
Views on an acknowledgment
Some submissions argued that the Commonwealth and/or
State Governments and the Churches and agencies should, rather than issuing
formal apologies, issue an acknowledgment that past flawed institutional care
policies occurred and acknowledge the consequences, including the adverse
consequences, of these policies. An acknowledgment was seen as particularly
important for many care leavers in that it would recognise their pain and
suffering and prove to them that, at last, their stories and their past
histories are 'believed'.
While there are demands for financial recompense for the
suffering received at the hands of those whom the courts identified as able to
provide adequate care and protection, the service users at VANISH are clear
that for them, it is important that their pain and suffering is acknowledged,
Child Migrants and Indigenous Children have had acknowledgment of their
suffering and ill treatment. Why should the survivors of Australian
Institutions and alternative care not be awarded the same consideration? 
...there is a need to remove the "evidence burden" of
having to provide evidence by people who have been in institutional care when
they report that they have experienced abuse. The healing process would be
aided if the agencies responsible for the care of children were to issue a
broad statement that acknowledges the suffering of those who have been in
institutional care. The anguish experienced through separation from their
family of origin as well as their experiences of systemic abuse should be
acknowledged as historic fact.
The National Children's and Youth Law Centre emphasised
the importance of a formal acknowledgment on behalf of Australian governments
in that it shows the victims of past abuse that the community and its leaders
are prepared to recognise and validate the suffering they have endured; and it
assists the victims to feel a sense of release and gain strength to cope better
with their personal experiences.
One care leaver stated that:
In my heart I feel if there is to be real peace for myself and
others like me, I expect some acknowledgment, some justice...from society. I would
like to be treated respectfully and fairly - to be given a fair hearing, the
Australian "fair go". (Sub 219)
CLAN, the support and advocacy group representing care
leavers, argued that acknowledgment and recognition is a more pressing need than
seeking an apology:
It is not an apology that is needed but an acknowledgment by
both state and Federal governments that these events did take place, that
policies were misconceived, and that the effects of this care system were
pernicious and caused lasting and often irreparable damage to the children who
Submissions noted that any acknowledgment needs to be
accompanied by precise measures of assistance and support. Broken Rites stated
that the organisation has 'observed the representatives of religious
organisations make acknowledgments time and time again while at the same time
refusing to consider the needs of the victim when seated in front of them at
The Committee believes that governments and the
Churches and agencies should all acknowledge their role in past institutional
care policies and practices.
The Committee considers that the Commonwealth
Government should issue a formal statement acknowledging, on behalf of the
nation, the impact that institutional care had on the lives of many care
leavers. In particular, the statement should express sorrow and apologise for
the harm caused to these children as a result of their lives in institutions,
with a particular emphasis on those children subject to physical and sexual abuse
and assault. The Committee notes that, while the Commonwealth was not directly
involved in the administration of these institutions, it has a moral obligation
to acknowledge the harm done to many children - and fellow Australians - in
institutional care settings. An acknowledgment in these terms will be an
important part of the healing and reconciliation process for many care leavers.
The Committee is of the view that the State Governments
and the Churches and agencies, who were directly involved in either the
administration and/or day-to-day implementation of institutional care practices
in the States, should acknowledge their respective roles in these practices;
and the significant harm done to many children in their care in the various institutions
across the country. The Committee believes that the statements by State
governments and Churches should express sorrow and apologise for the hurt and
distress suffered by care leavers, especially those who were the victims of
abuse and assault at the hands of those in the institutions who were in charge
of them and for whom they had a duty of care.
The Committee believes that the symbolism of an
acknowledgment is important in itself in recognising past wrongs and enables
governments and the Churches to accept their responsibilities for past actions
in relation to the treatment of care leavers.
The Committee also considers that an acknowledgment
would enable closure to be achieved or at least progressed for many care
leavers. It would go some way towards promoting emotional and psychological
healing so desperately needed by many care leavers. An acknowledgment would at
last recognise that care leavers have been 'believed' - that their experiences,
their traumas, their very existence do count and they are accepted for what
The Committee further is of the view that that these
acknowledgments must be accompanied by other positive measures that have been
recommended in the report to ensure that they are not regarded as merely 'empty
gestures' by care leavers and the community generally.
That the Commonwealth Government issue a formal statement
acknowledging, on behalf of the nation, the hurt and distress suffered by many
children in institutional care, particularly the children who were victims of
abuse and assault; and apologising for the harm caused to these children.
That all State Governments and Churches and agencies,
that have not already done so, issue formal statements acknowledging their role
in the administration of institutional care arrangements; and apologising for
the physical, psychological and social harm caused to the children, and the
hurt and distress suffered by the children at the hands of those who were in
charge of them, particularly the children who were victims of abuse and