The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse has been rather selective in which organisations it has chosen to investigate with regards to their association with paedophile, Steven Larkins, the subject of its first public hearings. It is considering only Scouts Australia, Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Service, NSW police and the NSW government Department of Community Services.
Yesterday, former Scouts official, Armand Hoitink, gave evidence indicating his concerns about Larkins. Oddly, he was not asked about a previous media article in which he is quoted as saying that he had discovered Larkins was working at Kendall Grange, a school for troubled boys run by the St John of God brothers, as a live-in house master. He said he had warned police, who told him they were ”keeping an eye” on Larkins.
The Catholic St. John of God order has been the subject of many cases of child sexual abuse at its institutions, both in Australia and in New Zealand (see previous posting). The Kendall Grange facility, located in the Hunter Region of NSW, has been the subject of several cases. Recently, former principal, Brother Bernard McGrath was extradited to Australia for offences at the school (see previous posting). Larkins was working at the school at the time he was forced to resign from the Scouts.
It was revealed last year that more than a dozen former students have alleged they were sexually abused by St John of God brothers at Kendall Grange School. Two of the brothers who worked at the school were convicted of serious abuse relating to work at homes run by the order in New Zealand in the 1960s. This is the springboard from which Larkins obtained his position with the Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Services organisation.
A spokesman for the St John of God Order has confirmed Larkins was a house parent at Kendall Grange from mid 1995 to 1998, during the time of Larkins’ “problems” with the Scouts. The Order’s spokesman said the order was not aware of any complaints relating to Larkins’ time at the school.
Larkins later worked at these two youth shelters on the New South Wales Central Coast: Umina Youth Angle and Woy Woy Youth Cottage. This is about all that’s left of the notorious Kendall Grange boarding home, run by the St John of God religious order. The cottages provided emergency accommodation for 4-5 at-risk children from 12-20 years of age. The Woy Woy facility had its registration cancelled by the NSW government on 24th. May 2013.
Besides the Catholic Church, other organisations, not mentioned at the Royal Commission by Counsel Assisting, Gail “Snow White” Furness (see previous postings), have employed Larkins during the time he was under suspicion.
Larkins originally worked for the Newcastle Education Department under the Priority Schools Program teaching Aboriginal dance, stories and art to primary and early secondary children and Year 11 and 12 Aboriginal Studies. Rural Education Program funding cuts meant Steve moved into welfare, working as senior youth worker at the Newcastle Worimi Detention Centre, and then as a house parent at St. John of God Kendall Grange.
In between the Kendall Grange and Woy Woy appointments, Larkins was employed as a house parent to 120 Aboriginal youths at Yirara College in Alice Springs. This is a boarding school operated by the Lutheran Church.
Recently, it was reported that Lutheran Church Schools Association executive director ,John Proeve, said that the Lutheran church had referred a complaint about the school to police. “We are still awaiting the outcome of that and, certainly when receiving any further details, we will then obviously take appropriate action,” he said.
Police have confirmed they are investigating an incident at the college, which was reported to them earlier this month. Former Federal Indigenous Health Minister, Warren Snowdon, said that Yirara College is an important school for Indigenous students. “I’d hate to think there are things going wrong there that shouldn’t be,” he said.
Ms. Furness received criticism, which she has refuted, for apparently missing the mark during the Star Casino enquiry, which she headed (see previous postings). To be fair, Ms. Furness may yet raise the matters related above, later in her activity with the Royal Commission.
To date, none of the mainstream media outlets have reported on Larkins’ association with these other organisations, except for the Fairfax group (before the current hearings began). Even then, Fairfax has not asked why the links, especially Hoitnik’s concerns about Kendall Grange, have not been explored at the enquiry.
Apparently, no one is particularly concerned that Larkins was employed by the now-disgraced St. John of God order at the time of the events which the enquiry did cover. Further, no one has bothered to ask the Lutheran Church why Larkins’ tenure with them was so brief.
Watch this space.
[Postscript: Larkins has given his interests as follows:
Food: Bangers and mash
Music: Anything 70’s/80’s.
Activity: Playing computer games
Movie: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings
TV: West Wing, Boston Legal, Two-And-A-Half Men.]
Read more here:
TOMORROW: Day 3
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)