Now that it is official that I will not be permitted, by the chairman of the Australian royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, Peter McClellan, to give evidence on my old Boys’ Home, “Alkira” – otherwise known as the Indooroopilly Salvation Army Home for Boys – it is time to explain some things. (The commission has stated that my case fell within its terms of reference, so that is not a point of dissention.):
- It was the practice when I was in the Home for new boys to be put in the bunk next to mine, and I was to help them learn the Home routines, and help them feel a bit better (they usually cried most of the night for the first couple of days). In effect, I gave them “pastoral” care.
- Because of the above, the boys had considerable trust in me, and possibly some affection. They confided in me about the abuses they experienced.
- When it was known that I would be leaving the Boys’ Home to go to my own home, at least twenty boys asked me to get their story out to the public and authorities.
- I have gotten my own story out on many occasions in the media and to other enquiries, so I was not intending to say much about my own case, except where necessary to make some sort of academic point, such as the officers having “sadistic arousal”, or the concept of “learned helplessness”.
- I wanted to tell the stories of those twenty or so boys, all of which I remember quite clearly after 50 years.
- I asked to have the floor “INTERRUPTED” (because I would need to take breaks because of a psychosomatic condition resulting from the violent atmosphere at the Home, whereby I can become physically sick if in the presence of strangers for more than an hour or so).
- The commission gave one of its reasons for the refusal as being that I had made the unreasonable demand that I be “UNINTERRUPTED”. That is a lie. (The relevant e-mail exchanges are available as proof).
- The commission made out I was asking to have the full first day for myself. This is also a lie on two accounts. As explained above, it was for the other boys. Secondly, most of the time of the first day is taken up by long-winded opening statements by Counsel Assisting and Salvation Army lawyers etc. and general procedural matters.
- Consequently, I would, (allowing for a ten-minute break to calm down every hour or so), have about ten minutes for each boy’s story, if that. Given what happened to them, and the fact that many are now dead, disabled, or incarcerated, that is not an overly long time to tell their stories.
- The commission said it was unreasonable that I would not agree to be cross-examined by $6,000 a day barristers. (The Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse – HIA – enquiry does not permit this). I cannot agree that the victims should be subjected to a court procedure, which is sometimes abused, when a royal commission is not a court. Victims should not be subjected to further psychological abuse in that way. I remain adamant on this point.
- I did not say that I would not answer questions. I said that I would be available, later in the hearings, to answer specific questions FROM THE COMMISSIONERS, to elaborate on detail, or otherwise explain, some of the more academic concepts I may have spoken about, such as “learned helplessness”.
- The commission has chosen to hide behind technicalities of its terms of reference. However, these can be changed, and indeed have been changed already, to accommodate the State enquiries.
- Finally, it has been suggested that my appearance would mean that someone else would not be heard. The former Prime Minister clearly wanted us ALL to be heard, which is why six commissioners, rather than one, were appointed and such a long time allowed for its sitting.
- I am of the view that ALL who want to appear publicly should be able to do so (as is the case for the Northern Ireland HIA enquiry), not just three or four selected by the commission to meet with its own agenda, with no reasons given for the selection.
- McClellan is on record (see previous posting) as saying that private hearings were for people WHO DID NOT WANT TO GIVE EVIDENCE IN PUBLIC. This makes a mockery of the claim that I had been offered a private hearing. (Indeed, the final offer was only to talk over the phone with a lawyer from the commission to explain things about “sadistic arousal” and the voyeurism associated with shower time).
- The phone conversations with commission people stressed their authority, to the extent of addressing me as “sir” (as in a police officer saying “Would you please step out of the car, sir”). As any therapist would know, like most people, but especially for “Home” people, if asked nicely we will do anything for anybody, but if ORDERED to do something, we tend to get our backs up.
- The thought arises that, either the commission staff does not know such a fundamental aspect of victims of brutal uniformed Salvation Army men (or women), or it was done deliberately to set up a reaction in me that would make me appear unreasonable, and thereby provide an excuse for denying me my voice. This I cannot know.
I could say a lot more, but I do not want to bore the reader.
Finally, I would like to say to those, anonymous, people who sent e-mails suggesting I am being selfish etc: You should give thanks to your “God” that you were fortunate enough not to have ended up in a Salvation Army Children’s Home.
[Postscript: “The royal commission’s public hearings will be formal. When you enter and exit the hearing room, it is customary to pause and bow your head towards the Australian coat of arms above where the Commissioners sit. When a Commissioner enters or leaves the hearing room [Ed.: perhaps to go to the bathroom?], it is customary to stand and bow your head. You should remain standing until each Commissioner has entered the room and been seated or has left the room, or until the Presiding Commissioner indicates for people to be seated.” Source: Royal Commission Protocols].
TOMORROW: Who cares?
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)