Bindood a tragic state of affairs
Brother Anthony Shanahan after testifying at the royal commission. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Complaints of sexual and physical abuse against 70 different Christian Brothers across Australia were recorded in the order's own records between 1919 and 1969, the royal commission in Perth was told this morning.

The commission has also heard evidence that the extent of the harm inflicted on boys by their abuse at the hands of Christian Brothers was first recognised by the order's leaders in 1954, but no fundamental changes were made in response to the concerns.

Giving evidence for a second day, former Christian Brothers Province leader Anthony Shanahan agreed that the relevant leadership of the order from the 1920s to the 1960s had been aware at the relevant time of complaints of sexual, and in some cases, physical abuse of children.

The records revealed that among the 70 individuals brothers who were subject to complaints, 18 committed repeat offences. A Brother Keenan was the subject of four complaints and a Brother Lambert Wise had five separate allegations against him.

The commission was given evidence from the internal records that despite the recognition in the mid-1950s that sexual abuse was not a one-off matter and was likely to be repeated by perpetrators, the many brothers who committed the abuse continued to be transferred to day schools to work with children or allowed to leave the order without further consequence.

The royal commission in Perth was told this morning that despite the recognition in the mid-1950s that sexual abuse was not a one-off matter and was likely to be repeated by perpetrators, the many brothers who committed the abuse continued to be transferred to day schools to work with children or allowed to leave the order without further consequence.

FULL COVERAGE - HOUSES OF HORROR

The public hearing is investigating a case study involving four WA Christian Brothers' orphanages where young boys were sexually, physically and mentally a used between 1947 and 1968.

Last week, 11 former residents of the Clontarf, Castledare, Bindoon and Tardun homes exposed details of horrific rapes, beatings, child slave labour, neglect and cruelty at the hands of the brothers entrusted with their care.

This morning, Brother Shanahan continued to be led through a chronological record compiled by the commission which has collated evidence from the order's records of complaints of abuse by Christian Brothers across Australia.

Brother Shanahan outlined details of a visitation to the Bindoon home in 1947, which the records indicated was never fitted out as a school.

He described a "tragic state of affairs" at Bindoon in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

"The place was overcrowded and still had not been properly completed in regard to its facilities," said Brother Shanahan, who agreed the boys were put to work completing the building of the home.

"Bindoon was a pretty spartan, bare, masculine sort of place. A woman's touch was sadly lacking at Bindoon."

Brother Shanahan said the records seemed to reveal a change of approach in the 1950s, where decisive action such as expulsions and dismissals were no longer taken.

The hearing continues.

The West Australian

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