Apology to Victims

From the beginning of the 20th century the Uniting Church, and its predecessor denominations, the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Church's have been responsible for providing care for children.

The Methodist Church provided care through the Magill Children's Home, which was formed in 1904 and changed its name to Lentara in the 1950's, and the Kate Cocks Babies Home formed in 1935. Support was also provided to the Protestant Children's Home in Morialta by the previous denominations. The Uniting Church continues to care for children through the work of UnitingCareWesley.

The Senate Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care heard from many people around Australia who were residents in institutions, and its report, 'The Forgotten Australians', details many cases of severe abuse experienced by children. It also describes the trauma experienced by children who were cut off from their families, and grew up in harsh and unloving conditions.

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia has issued a public apology to any who were abused in Uniting Church institutions, and this has been supported by the Moderators in all Synods. In 2004 the South Australian Synod of the Uniting Church considered the senate report and its findings and made the following decisions:

FORGOTTEN AUSTRALIANS

That the Synod affirm the significance of the Senate Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care and the findings documented in its report "Forgotten Australians", and, in consequence:

1. Acknowledge with sorrow that some children in our institutions experienced:

  • neglect of their social, emotional, spiritual and physical needs;
  • physical violence, sexual or emotional abuse perpetrated by staff who should have been trustworthy;
  • emotional and social trauma and on-going harm;

and apologise unreservedly to these people.

2. Apologise unreservedly to the families of those who experienced abuse in our institutions for the trauma they experienced.

3. Acknowledge those faithful staff who strove to provide secure, safe and loving environments for children and young people in care.

4. Note that through the Children, Youth and Family Advisory Committee of UnitingCareAustralia, UnitingCareis reviewing current practice for handling past abuse allegations and complaints within the agencies in order to advise on the development of a consistent and transparent process, and report back to the full Synod in 2005.

5. Request existing child, youth and family service agencies that currently provide, or have provided institutional or out-of-home care in the past:

a. To issue their own statements, acknowledging the pain and suffering of some residents of their agency's services and expressing deep regret and sorrow that this has been their experience.

b. To ensure best practice in facilitating client access to records and in the provision of support to those affected.

c. To ensure high standards and clear procedures for the provision of quality out-of-home care services to children, young people and families.

6. Request the Federal Government, in the light of the evidence presented within the "Forgotten Australians" report and the recommendations made:

a. To issue a national statement of acknowledgment and apology.

b. To consult with State Governments, Churches and Agencies regarding the establishment and management of a national reparation fund.

c. To develop comprehensive and consistent national standards and accreditation processes for the provision of institutional or out-of-home care, which builds on existing State standards and regulations.

7. Request the Government of South Australia, in response to the "Forgotten Australians" report:

a. To issue a statement of acknowledgment and apology.

b. To co-operate in the establishment of a national reparation fund.

c. To participate in the development of national standards for out-of-home care for children and young people. (S04.42)

To see thePolicy and Procedure for Adressing complaints of past child abuse by former UCA SA employee, please select this link.

If you wish to report an incidence of abuse or inappropriate behaviour you can contact:

 

Linda Vinall
Training and Development Officer
lvinall@sa.uca.org.au

Philip Gardner
Executive Officer, Pastoral Relations and Mission Planning Team
pgardner@sa.uca.org.au

Uniting Church SA
Level 2,212 Pirie Street
AdelaideSA 5001
Ph: (08) 8236 4200
Country callers: 1300 766 956