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Archbishop to respond to Goodwood orphanage abuse

Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson has scheduled a meeting with a group seeking compensation for abuse at a Sisters of Mercy orphanage that was documented in the Senate inquiry report released this week.

The Age reported yesterday that senators from both sides of politics broke down in tears on Monday as they released the Forgotten Australians report into the abuse of children at church and state institutions. The result of four months of hearings and hundreds of harrowing submissions, the report found governments, churches and care agencies had shown a "complete lack of understanding or . . . responsibility for the level of neglect, abuse and assault that occurred in their institutions".

Today's Adelaide Advertiser reports on harsh treatment suffered at the Catholic Church's Goodwood Orphanage, which was run by the Sisters of Mercy. Goodwood, which closed in 1976, features prominently in the report.

One former Goodwood orphan contacted by The Australian, who wished to remain anonymous, said she had participated in the Catholic Church's official Towards Healing process for victims of abuse.

"The church believed what I said about the treatment at Goodwood, but said they weren't able to find that the conduct was inconsistent with the standards of the day," the woman said.

The Forgotten Australians report addressed this common excuse for abuse. "When did the 'standards of the time' change that condoned the perpetration of neglect, cruelty, psychological abuse, sadism, rape and sodomy?" the report said.

A spokesperson for Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson said a meeting was scheduled with the Goodwood group.

"We are working closely with the Religious Order that ran the orphanage so that we can make the most appropriate response to the claimants when they come forward," the spokesman said.

Ahead of the release of the report, the ABC said last Wednesday that a group of nine former residents at the Goodwood Orphanage in Adelaide has decided to take legal action against the Catholic Church.

It quoted the Church as saying it is talking with the religious order that ran the orphanage, so it can make the most appropriate response to claimants when they come forward.

Academic Bob Moles has spoken to more than a dozen people who were residents of the now closed orphanage.

"When you have similar reports that name the same people, doing the same things to different people in the orphanage on a number of occasions over a period of time, that in itself constitutes corroboration," he said.

Scarred for life by the sisters of little mercy (The Australian 1/9/04)
Group to launch Goodwood orphanage abuse case (ABC 25/8/04)

Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children (Parliament of Australia - Senate - 30/8/04) | PDF download
Abused children's report draws tears (The Age 31/8/04)
Victims of abuse in care welcome Senate report (ABC TV 7:30 Report 31/8/04)
Church sets up child protection council (The Advertiser 27/8/04)

32 Sep 2004