Commission Revisits “Towards Healing” (Or: Re-Writing History For Fun And Profit)


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The chief commissioner of the Australian royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, Peter McClellan, and his counsel assisting, Gail “Snow White” Furness, have been very kind to the Catholic Church. They have given it another chance to distort the story about its “Towards Healing” protocol for dealing with its victims.

In a special hearing today, which will continue tomorrow, the person who has been described as the “media relations man” for the Catholic Church’s PR unit, Truth Justice and Healing Council, established to deal with the fall-out from the royal commission (see previous posting), has been given the floor to reject claims made during the main, official, hearings last year.

The YMCA has already been given this opportunity yesterday, with the difference that their submission is not being released for public scrutiny.

Michael Salmon is the New South Wales and ACT Director of the Professional Standards Office within the Catholic Church. He was given free reign, without cross-examination by victims’ lawyers, to claim that one victim gave false evidence. The victim, known as DK, (see previous posting) had claimed that he had not been informed of Mr. Salmon’s position within the church during “pastoral” consultations with the Catholic Church.

DK had told the original hearing that Church authorities told him Mr Salmon was “independent” but he later saw Mr Salmon on the television defending the Catholic Church. DK told that hearing the failure to disclose Michael Salmon’s position as Director of the NSW Professional Standards Office within the Church made him feel like he was being lied to.

Today, Mr Salmon was permitted to tell the commission that he does not think the person coordinating a compensation hearing needs to be impartial.

Peter McClellan earned his $1,000 plus salary for the day by “expressing his concern” to Mr Salmon, saying that “It seems to me that if the purpose of the facilitator is to get the best outcome for the person who has suffered, that a lack of identity with the Church would be fundamental to a perception of a fair process.”

Counsel Assisting the Commission, Gail “Snow White” Furness, did the same by questioning Salmon about the decision to appoint Church employees, saying “Why didn’t you, back then, know the importance of properly conveying to a person attending Towards Healing your employment, and doing so in writing before agreeing to engage as the facilitator?”

Michael Salmon responded that he made the decisions in “good faith”. The commission left it there. Phew!

With so many bites at the cherry, it may be necessary for the commission to invest in a new cherry.

[Postscript: The Chief Commissioner of the Australian royal commission, Peter McClellan, continues to refuse permission for the author to give evidence, or present a submission, at the up-coming hearings on abuses at the Salvation Army’s Indooroopilly Boys’ Home (“Alkira”) where the author once lived. The Salvation Army has been given such permission.]

(Note: royal commissions do not automatically have access to phone taps, but the commission’s request to do so, has been approved by the Federal Attorney-General George Brandis. No other details have been released.)

Read more here:

TOMORROW: More bites at the cherry

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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