The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army was founded in 1865. It first came to Australia in 1880. This was the same year it started giving ordained minsters the title of ‘officer’ and used titles of military rank. It was established in all states of Australia by 1891. In Australia, The Salvation Army has two Territories which are Southern ( Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory) and Eastern (New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT). The Headquarters for each territory are located in Melbourne and Sydney, respectively.

The Salvation Army’s children’s homes were divided by gender between 1950 and 1983. A men’s social services secretary at territorial headquarters oversaw the boy’s homes, with an equivalent women’s secretary for the girl’s homes. Each of the homes had a managerial structure in place where the person who ran the home was the ‘manager’. This individual in turn was a senior ranking officer in the Salvation Army. He was usually a captain, although sometimes a major.

The manager was responsible for the home. He received and dealt with complaints and disciplined residents. Managers were accountable to both the divisional and territorial headquarters staff. Headquarters staff had to inspect the homes they operated each year. However, managers had a very high level of control over the homes, which they exercised with only limited supervision by either headquarters. The Salvation Army children’s homes also operated under government licences.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found the Salvation Army was negligent and responsible for the physical and sexual abuse that occurred in many of the homes operated and owned by them. In Case Studies number 5 and 33, the Royal Commission heard allegations of physical and sexual abuse from nearly 150 victims. In short, the Royal Commission concluded that the Salvation Army suffered from the following systematic issues:

  • training and supervision of staff working with children;

  • mechanisms for handling complaints of sexual abuse from children;

  • oversight of staff and institutions working with children in out-of-home care;

  • reporting of physical and sexual abuse to child protection authorities;

  • reporting of physical and sexual abuse to the police; and

  • record keeping in non-government institutions.

While the Salvation Army through Commissioner Condon did apologise for the harm and trauma it had inflicted on many children, and promised to implement and adopt a restorative justice approach to assist people who come forward with complaints of sexual abuse and other mistreatment, the apology and the new measures still come too little and too late for the trauma many victims have had to endure.

Artemis Legal has represented clients and is still representing clients who were victims of physical and sexual abuse at homes and institutions run by the Salvation Army.

We invite former victims to contact us to tell us confidentially what information they may have, and we will explain what options are available to help with these cases.

Call us or complete the confidential enquiry form.