Allegations of Abuse in Institutions

Salvation Army Homes - Main Index

Index 2003 (Jan-Aug)

The Timaru Herald
August 28 2003

Temuka pair allege abuse
by Rhonda Markby

Five former residents of the Salvation Army's Bramwell Booth Home at Temuka are among those alleging abuse at the hands of the home's staff decades ago.

On Wednesday night, the army's secretary for programme Major Alistair Herring confirmed two people who lived at the Temuka home were among the eight who had lodged complaints some time ago. A further three, all men, have contacted the army in the last week.

The army is now investigating 36 historical cases of abuse at its children's homes around the country. The majority of cases relate to harsh corporal punishment, although a few have referred to sexual abuse.

Major Herring was unable to confirm the types of abuse alleged to have taken place at Bramwell Booth, or the years the individuals were at the home.

The majority of those who have alleged they were abused were at children's homes in the 40s and 50s, and he suspected that was the likely time-frame for the local cases. The exception had been a cluster of complaints from people who had been at one particular home in the early 70s.

"Children who came into our care in that era were a mixture - orphans referred by extended family or other welfare agencies as well as some wards of the state," Major Herring said.

The Temuka complex was first opened as a home for war orphans in 1916. It closed as a children's home in 1986 and has offered supportive accommodation for adults with intellectual disabilities since then.

Staff are following a set procedure with all those who allege abuse.

Major Herring said initially staff offer to meet the person and hear their story if that is what they wish. For some that is enough to provide closure to incidents which occurred decades earlier.

People are also offered counselling at the army's expense. Records of their time in Salvation Army care can also be handed over.

Sometimes matters are resolved at that point.

An apology is offered if that is seen as helpful.

"We are caring enough to say sorry," Major Herring said. "You would like to think this would not happen to children in your care."

If the allegations appear to be more serious, extensive investigations will be undertaken and depending on the outcome, matters relating to compensation and police involvement are discussed.