“Support from the Salvation Army” (Or: Still ‘Salvos First’)

The email below, just received from James Condon of the Salvation Army, is not a surprise. Oddly, it doesn’t even hurt. Did I bring this on myself with my adversarial stance? Yeah, probably. Was I right to be angry? I think so. Does this mean I give up? Not a chance. Your email is proof that you and the Salvation Army still don’t ‘get it’, James. Don’t pray for me. Pray for your organisation.

Aletha Blayse

Subject: Support from the Salvation Army


Thank you for your heartfelt letter. You have raised several issues which The Salvation Army is wrestling with, including the matter of restitution.

As you know, when the Homie’s program was televised, our policies were not adequate to meet the just claims of people such as your Father.  We are very sorry that he did not receive an appropriate response then, or sooner.

Eventually, we did establish better policies. We instituted an approach we call People First.  It was after that, that your Mother (I believe) wrote to Major Peter Farthing, asking if the Army could not provide a better and more just response to your Father.  As a result of that, Peter and his wife Kerrie went to see your Father.  He recounted to them his awful experiences.  He explained how they had impacted his life. They gave an unreserved apology on behalf of The Salvation Army. They also reached an agreement on an ex-gratia payment “as a tangible expression of our regret”.

Later, your Father wrote, pointing out how badly the experiences had affected his whole family.  In response, Peter Farthing wrote to yourself, Alwyn and Julia.

We do believe, therefore, that some effort had been made to listen;  to express goodwill;  and to make a small restitution.

I am continuing to remember you in prayer, along with members of your family, as you move through the journey of grief following the loss of your Father.

Thank you again for writing.

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24 Responses to “Support from the Salvation Army” (Or: Still ‘Salvos First’)

  1. Zoila says:

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  2. disgusted says:

    Anyone noticed they are advertising their Youth Camps and it is unbelievable that any parent would let their child go if they loved their child. The Child Protection Services should see to it that they are not allowed near children whatsoever.

  3. disgusted says:

    I see a Salvation Army worker was responsible for the death of the detainee on Manus Island.
    When will Australia send these people packing and close down this corrupt organisation

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi. I hope that the Australian public IS becoming more informed about this organisation. People need to keep speaking out about what they know, and not be afraid to do so. Government does need to be taking a closer look at this organisation, which receives huge funding from them.

  4. disgusted says:

    Why is Tony Abbott and Barry O’Farrell still donating taxpayer money to the Salvation Army along with Woolworths and IGA on the pretence it will be given to the Farmers. They will see very little of this donated money. There must be child abusers in the Government who want to support this dreadful organisation. I am glad to see Coles did not jump on the band wagon or McDonalds. Why don’t they get Hillsong to do the relief effort. The Sallies are still allowed to run youth camps it is surely a joke. Sallies should be forced to publish their wealth and how much they actually gave to the Tsumani, Hatia, Bali, Bush Fires, Drought, and Floods. Where did the wishing tree toys go.
    What about their warehouse full of toys they boast about in Victoria that were given as donations.

  5. Nicky Davis says:

    How can any institution that responds in such a callous, hurtful and self serving manner to those they have directly and deliberately harmed be trusted to look after the vulnerable?

    Or be considered deserving of public donations or taxpayer funding?

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi Nicky. Agree wholeheartedly. I do not believe they are a fit and proper organisation to receive government funding and donations from the public. How they have treated and continue to treat survivors and their families speaks louder than their self-serving statements. As far as I’m concerned, this is what matters and tells us everything we need to know about how they will respond in the future to abuse allegations against members of their ranks, no matter what they say about their new approaches.

  6. Clive Bond says:

    Through out my long life I always thought of the Salvos as the only good guys in a murky business. Now I see them as a pack of self serving patronising bastards. No different from the others.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi Clive. I think a lot of people have felt this way in the past, and it’s understandable. I and thousands of other people grew up knowing what had happened to our parents / other loved ones in Salvo-run institutions, so we always knew the truth when we saw their slick ads. I used to cross the road if I saw one of them out on the street panhandling for money because I found it so upsetting to see them in uniform and to be reminded of the horrors my father and thousands of others endured. I know from talking to survivors of their institutions that this feeling is multiplied many, many times over, and they feel that it is the grossest indecency for Salvos to be parading around in public in their uniforms where survivors might see them and be transported back in time to the horrors of their childhood.

  7. David Patterson says:

    So glad I don’t have a cabal of molesters and their apologists wanting to pray for me … that I know of…
    Doubtless it’s easier to lie about sky monsters than face the reality about their pederast impact on people’s lives

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi David. I just find it absurd to the point of even being a bit funny. But it’s a hurtful way of responding to people, and I really hope they don’t send such letters to other people who probably would be deeply hurt as such a patronising, insulting, and self-serving response.
      No, they’re not facing the reality of the impact on people’s lives. This is demonstrated by the pittances they have thrown at people, and in how they have treated our family. As I said in my reply to Nicky, I do not believe they are a fit and proper organisation to receive government and public money. I hope that as time goes on, more people share the same feeling.

  8. Emma Furness says:

    I wonder if Mr James Bloody Condon would still pray for you Aletha with a boot up his back passage?

  9. Hi Aletha,

    I can imagine your Dad laughing his head off at the name of the Salvation Army’s latest magic bullet: “People First”. As if!!!! Your father wrote some BRILLIANT blogs of advice to victims with his counsel NEVER to let the institution responsible for the criminal atrocities perpetrated “help” you. He was on the money, literally, as this email from James Condon reveals with startling clarity. I believe the manner or your approach, Aletha, to this organisation would have been irrelevant to the above outcome. The fake tears and puzzlement of the Salvation Army (well, it worked for the Anglicans and the Catholics, so why not the Salvos), are insupportable. Salvation Army crimes and atrocities are the constant and these organised, criminal institutions should not be in contact with any victims in any way – full stop! They will not make restitution until they are dragged, apologising all the way, to that point.

    James Condon’s PR spin said that “We’ve called our policy ‘People First’- first because the priority is the survivor, not the protection of the Salvation Army.”
    I searched the Salvation Army website for a reference to ‘People First’ and found none. There’s no reference on their front page, or under News, and neither of these related articles speaks of the boasted new Salvation Army policy.

    The cost of each incidence of child abuse in the States has recently been estimated at US $1.3 million, and only when organisations like the Salvation Army face individual restorative justice of the financial order of A$1 million minimum for each raped child will men like Andre Cox, James Condon and Peter Farthing start to get serious about their organisation’s response to institutional child sexual abuse.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi Sheena. Unfortunately, they will have to be ‘dragged’ to doing the right thing since they have demonstrated they’re not willing to do the right thing. The only way this will happen is if people hit them where it hurts – their hip pockets. To this end, I hope the public has been paying attention to all of this and takes some time to do some research into their past and current practices before donating to them, because it’s only when the Salvos feel the pinch financially that they will start doing the right thing.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi again, Sheena.

      Thank you for the data on the cost of child abuse. If you have a link to this research that you’d like to send to me, please do. It will be helpful for a post I’d like to write elaborating upon the cost to society of child abuse.

      I too am disturbed what what I’ve read on their websites re directing people to themselves rather than the authorities, including the police and the Royal Commission. There may well be sites / documents in which they say a different thing and that suggest that people go straight to the authorities, yet, on this page (http://salvos.org.au/royalcommission/support/making-a-report-of-sexual-abuse/), entitled “Making a report of sexual abuse”, the first port of call suggested to survivors is the Salvation Army itself, through their ‘Professional Standards’ section, not the authorities. Similarly, on this page (http://salvos.org.au/royalcommission/), entitled ‘Royal Commission’, they suggest people call the ‘Salvos Care Line’. Like you, I don’t think this is right; it is wrong on so many levels. The right thing would be to direct people straight to the police and the Royal Commission. Perhaps they’re doing this in practice when people get in touch with them, but these web pages would appear to contradict that.

      I too am unable to find their ‘People First’ policy. Perhaps some helpful Salvationist who might be reading this might be so kind as to provide a link to it?

      • Mike Harvey says:

        Having spent over three years in the ‘care’ of these so called ‘Christians’ at Bexley, I know only too well what two faced hypocritical mongrels they are. They would be the last people I would I would go to for help. When ever I am approached by one of their members I simply say two words….. one of the words is “OFF” and shut the door.

        • lewisblayse says:

          Hi Mike. I am truly sorry you endured Bexley. Thank you for saying what you said. I know so many people who’ve expressed the same sentiment, my father included, but the more people I hear say the kinds of things you’re saying, the more determined I become to help keep up my efforts to expose the truth even more than has already been done. It was sickening how they rebounded after the airing of ‘The Homies’. I hope fervently that they don’t get off lightly again this time, because I don’t perceive a genuine change from my vantage point. Keep speaking out, Mike.
          Aletha Blayse

  10. John Fleming says:

    Hi Aletha, I have been following this blog for a long time and have been greatly helped by it. Your father’s knowledge and insight were outstanding. I don’t know if this a fair request but I will make it and you respond or not as you see fit. If you were that Salvo officer what do you think would be the kind of letter you think that he should write if he really ‘gets it’. And with what should his letter be accompanied, eg in terms of reparation.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi John

      It’s a perfectly fair request you make, and I was hoping someone would ask, so thanks for being that person.

      To give context to what follows, a brief outline of my father’s disabilities is required. I’ve probably left out many, but those that come to mind immediately are severe and complex PTSD, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, dissociation, an inability to be close to people for more than about an hour without throwing up, life-long stomach pain, difficulty keeping food down and other gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, difficulty, battling suicidal feelings, low self-esteem, learned helplessness, pervasive and lifelong guilt and shame at not having been able to protect the other boys from abuse, waking up every day (including up to the day before he died) in a state of terror in which he believed he was still in Alkira, difficulties with authority figures, inability to trust people, inability to relax / hypervigilance, and being ‘triggered’ by the sight of dozens of everyday, innocent-to-other things that reminded him of Alkira that made being out and about in the community and the workplace like walking through a minefield. He lived most of his life dependent on welfare and therefore poverty of the worst kind in our country.

      To give further context, it is necessary to know of his intellect, his talents, and his gifts. For this, you, and the reader, are directed to the ‘First Person Posts’ page on this site (see ‘Site Directory’: https://lewisblayse.net/about-2/) and to the ‘About’ page on this site (https://lewisblayse.net/site-directory-2/first-person-posts-about-the-blogger/). A little imagination is all that is required to conceive a multitude of likely and typical paths in life for a person possessing such attributes. Again, I could think of many more were I to spend more time, but some that come to mind are professor, parliamentarian, medical professional, company director, etc. All stand in stark contrast to what was.

      Given the preceding, then, the sort of letter that would demonstrate true understanding, humility, and a desire to set things to right would be one that showed that the Salvation Army understood that there was a massive breach between the life my father lived and the life he should have lived were it not for what the Salvation Army did to him. And that it wished to compensate him by breaching that gap in earning capacity financially. (Here, the obvious question, which I anticipate, is whether they should do this now that he is no longer on this earth. The answer to such question is still ‘yes’, because they should not be able to get away with waiting for people to die and because to fail to do so would be to fail to acknowledge that my father was unable to leave any financial legacy to his children).

      Such a letter would also state that it understood that my mother had to give up her career as a brilliant concert organist to care for my father, and that the organisation wished to provide funding that again breached the gap between what was and what should have been in HER life and earning capacity too.

      Such a letter would also state that it understood that I spent the last 7 years of my life caring for my father.

      (Here, another obvious question is whether I or my mother regret the years we spent caring for Dad, and the answer is ‘no’; we loved him and loved being near him. But that does not let the Salvation Army off the hook, and I think any reasonable person would understand that).

      Finally, such a letter would also state that the Salvation Army understood that there needed to be a financial component for the years of pain and suffering endured by my father and his family, and for taking away the most wonderful, patient, loving, caring, and compassionate father/grandfather any child could hope for away from his children and his grandchild decades before we should have had to say goodbye to him.

      I will continue to wait for such a letter.

      Kind regards,

      Aletha Blayse

  11. Rosemary Bateman says:

    Restorative justice seems another world to these abusing corporations and nearly is good enough it seems to them. To pray for another is not appropriate at all. This sets up a certain mental issues for those who were so deviantly abused. This was not a single abuse scenario but covered a much longer period of time with patterned and done with forethought and malice. Hence sets a deviant approach in behavioural modifying and melding personality. So affecting children and young people in this manner a certain ghost in the genes and is passed onto the children of the abused. Suffer the children by these corporations must be read as and should prayer be ‘while we torture and make the child suffer repeatedly’ we take no responsibility for the outcome nor for creating disability. Nor does Salvation Army take responsibility Such as a life time of suffering and creating disability for the next generations with prayer and tortured salvation.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi Rosemary.
      Thanks for your comment.
      You are spot on about the inappropriateness of ‘praying’ for people.
      So too are you spot on about the inter-generational effects. I got an ‘Apology’ from the Salvos for what they did to my father. I threw it in the bin because it made me so angry.
      Kind regards,

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