Class-action payment an insult, says abuse victim

The national law firm that represented former orphanage residents in a class action against the Christian Brothers was fighting for its commission and not for the victims, a man who was abused at Bindoon told the royal commission in Perth yesterday.

Edward Delaney told the public hearing that he had heard about the class action by Slater & Gordon and attended a meeting in Melbourne, where he was told he should sign a final offer that would give him about $3000.

"For what we went through, I felt this amount was an insult," he said at the third day of evidence at the Perth hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Mr Delaney said he thought it was "disgusting", but he was told it was $3000 or nothing and he signed a document. "I am sorry I signed that document," he said.

The Perth hearing is investigating the abuse of boys at the Christian Brothers' Bindoon, Clontarf, Castledare and Tardun homes from the 1940s to 1960s.

Criticism of Slater & Gordon's handling of the class action has been heard in the evidence of numerous former residents over the past three days.

Slater & Gordon lawyers are scheduled to give evidence at the commission today.

Former Bindoon resident Gordon Grant said yesterday he had accepted $10,000 from the class action in return for signing away his legal rights.

"Most of these guys have never spoken to a lawyer," he said. "Most of these guys were pensioners, out of work, didn't have anything, so they accepted a lousy $2000."

In a letter written to the Christian Brothers congregation yesterday, Oceania Province professional standards executive director Brian Brandon said the men had been heard and their pain was acknowledged

Brother Brandon reiterated the Christian Brothers apology first made in 1993, saying what had happened at the four homes was indefensible and of the deepest shame to the order.

Acting director-general of the WA Department for Child Protection and Family Support Emma White told the inquiry that a search of records found no documents from the 1940s and 50s.

But an unannounced visit to Bindoon in 1947 had resulted in a letter to the Catholic Archbishop of Perth and a recommendation that boys not be admitted until education facilities improved.

A note on the file read: "I think you will agree, as minister for education, that boys of school age being brought out from England under the migrant scheme must at least be given a chance to be properly educated."