Royal Commission releases findings on the North Coast Children’s Home

Royal Commission releases findings on the North Coast Children’s Home

A report published by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has found the Anglican Diocese of Grafton denied responsibility for sexual abuse that took place at a children’s home established by its local rector on church land.

Other findings include that the Diocese denied financial compensation for some victims abused at the home, failed to comply with its own policies and procedures, and dealt with victims insensitively.

The report of Case Study no. 3, examining the Anglican Diocese of Grafton’s response to child sexual abuse at the North Coast Children’s Home, was tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament today.

The report explores how the Diocese responded when former residents revealed their experience of child sexual abuse after 2005 and considers how the Church’s structure, policies and financial arrangements affected the way it managed abuse claims. The report also examines how the Diocese dealt with the clergy who were accused.

The Royal Commission’s public hearing on the matter heard evidence of frequent sexual, psychological and physical abuse perpetrated against nine former child residents at the Home between 1940 and 1985 and the profound, long lasting impacts on their lives and mental health.

Witness Tommy Campion shared his story about being sexually abused as a child between 1949 and 1962. He was invited to the minister’s residence for crumpets and honey, only to be taken into a spare room and sexually abused.

Another witness revealed abuse at the hands of Reverend Kitchingman who was convicted for indecent assault in 1968 and 2002.

The report makes 28 findings including:
  • At all times, the North Cost Children’s Home was strongly associated with the Anglican Church and its predecessor, the Church of England, and controlled by the Board of Management including the Rector of St Andrew’s Church Lismore in the Diocese of Grafton.
  • By 10 October 2006 the Diocese was not following its own policies in its handling of the group claim as set out in the Professional Standards Ordinance and Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Abuse both adopted in 2004 and Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme adopted in 2005.
  • The settlement negotiations on 19 and 20 December 2006 were conducted in a hostile manner, contrary to the spirit of the 2005 Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme and the 2004 Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Abuse.
  • By denying legal liability on the basis that it did not control the North Coast Children’s Home and not providing a pastoral response, the Diocese of Grafton’s response had a detrimental effect on abused former residents.
  • Despite its knowledge of the potential claims by 2005, the Diocese of Grafton did not make provision for settling child abuse claims in its annual budgets for 2006 and 2008 and 2012.
  • The Diocese of Grafton did not make any financial provision for professional standards matters. It prioritised the Clarence Valley Anglican School debt over its financial obligations under the Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Abuse and The Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme to pay abused former residents of the North Coast Children’s Home between 2007 and 2012.
  • The dioceses of Grafton and Newcastle could both have taken action in response to the professional standards matters concerning Reverend Allan Kitchingman including his discipline. There was no clear system in place to determine which Diocese would assume responsibility.
Read the full Report of Case Study No. 3.