The West

Church to revisit abuse compensation
Brother Julian McDonald, a deputy province leader, says abuse compensation payouts will be reviewed. Picture: Sharon Smith.

A Christian Brothers' leader has told a royal commission hearing in Perth this morning that the order will revisit any compensation payment considered to be unjust by a victim of child abuse.

Brother Julian McDonald, a deputy province leader, told the hearing that the commitment would encompass all 11 men who gave evidence to the commission last week of brutal and repeated abuse at the hands of brothers at four WA orphanages run by the order.

"I will say here and now that any settlement that is regarded by the person settled with as unjust will be revisited," Brother McDonald told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Questioned by lawyer Mark Cuomo, representing one of the men who gave evidence of abuse, Brother McDonald said selling properties which were still owned by the order - and built by the unpaid child labour of former residents - and using the proceeds to compensate those left damaged by abuse was a "possibility".

The royal commission has taken evidence over eight days as part of a case study into the Christian Brothers' Tardun, Bindoon, Clontarf and Castledare homes.

Evidence of rapes, beatings, child slave labour, neglect and cruelty has been exposed in the hearing, which has also been told of a lack of action by the order despite leaders becoming aware of the abuse from the 1920s.

Royal Commission: Full Coverage

The inquiry has also focused on various compensation schemes for the victims of the abuse, including money paid out in settlement of a class action in 1996 and nearly $21 million through claims made to the order.

This morning, Brother McDonald said he had become aware of a case through his predecessor as province leader in New South Wales where police had suggested a brother facing accusations be transferred interstate or face arrest.

"I could not condone or live with that, quite frankly," he told the hearing.

Brother McDonald said he had spent 25 years trying to deal with the consequences of the abusive behaviour of the brotherhood.

"I will never deny it, I will never defend it, I will never condone it," he said.

"Unless we address this, we have no credibility. It is imperative that we address this blight."

Questioned about how the order would confront the history of abuse, Brother McDonald said by ensuring all allegations brought to the order were referred to police and child protection authorities.

Brother McDonald agreed that developing a formal, written training document for the order that confronts the issues - which was not currently in place - would help confront the issues.

The hearing is expected to finish today.

The West Australian

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