"Salvation Army says Sorry for Abuse"

The physical scars may have faded but the emotional ones remain raw for thousands of Australians who were abused while growing up inside children's homes.

So an apology by the Salvation Army for the abuse of children in its care up to the 1990s was welcome news for many of the survivors who gathered in Canberra on Tuesday.

The organisation's chief of staff Barry Swanson travelled from London to speak on behalf of the Salvation Army chief General Shaw Clifton.

In the event that was closed to the media, the Salvation Army acknowledged the "rigid, harsh and authoritarian" environment inside many of its homes.

"Many children did not experience the gentleness of love that they needed," the apology, later distributed to media, read.

"Some children suffered abuse and deprivation. As a result their stories are full of hurt, rejection, discouragement and a failure to realise potential.

"To you all, we say sorry."

The support network for the half a million so-called forgotten Australians, who grew up inside orphanages and institutions, welcomed the apology.

"It has been a momentous day," Care Leavers Australia Network president Jim Luthy said.

CLAN hopes it will lead to an apology by the Salvation Army to the children who were abused in their care in other countries.

They are also calling for a national compensation fund, contributed to by state and federal governments and the charities involved.

The federal government ruled out a national compensation scheme last year when it delivered a national apology to forgotten Australians.

The Salvation Army pays compensation to victims, but many say it's not enough.

Brian Cherrie, 57, who was repeatedly raped inside the notorious Box Hill Boys' Home, wants the churches and charities responsible for the abuse to sell assets to pay for compensation.

"The children's home where I grew up is still owned by the Salvation Army ... and is worth tens of millions of dollars," he told reporters.

"These churches and charities made a lot of money on the back of our misery and they need to cough up and pay redress to all forgotten Australians."

But survivors like Alfred Stirling, 70, say no amount of money will ever make up for the abuse suffered inside.

"I'd get the crap beaten out of me, and then raped ... it was hell," he said of his time in Bayswater Boys' Homes from 1954-57.  (Source : http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/salvation-army-says-sorry-for-abuse-20101207-18o2c.html)


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