Settlement of Lewis Blayse Matter (OR: An Opportunity for the Salvation Army and a New Beginning)

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Image: ‘Major’ Peter Farthing, Salvation Army (Image source: ABC)

From: Aletha Blayse <aletha.blayse@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 6:57 PM
Subject: Settlement of Lewis Blayse Matter (OR: An Opportunity for the Salvation Army and a New Beginning)
To: “peterfarthing2 .” <peter.farthing@aue.salvationarmy.org>, james.condon@aue.salvationarmy.org, General André Cox <websa@salvationarmy.org>, bruce.redman@aus.salvationarmy.orgmediaofficer@aue.salvationarmy.orgluke.geary@salvoslegal.com.au

Dear Mr. Farthing,

Thank you for your repeated offer at the Royal Commission hearings to meet with me to discuss my complaint with the Salvation Army in relation to its treatment of my father and his family.

While I am concerned about your continued refusal to have a member of the media present at a meeting, I have thought of a way to protect my interests and avoid the problems I am concerned about by conducting our ‘discussions’ via email.

Accordingly, I now state for you what the Salvation Army needs to do in order to settle the matter of compensation to my father’s family in a way that will satisfy me, my family, and other people with an interest in our matter that your organisation has indeed turned over a new leaf in relation to how it treats victims of the Salvation Army and their families.

I have calculated a sum of $600,000 as being suitable to achieve, to a reasonable degree, the objectives I have set out in my petition and elsewhere and the principles I have enunciated for what compensation payments should look like. Needless to say, this is quite different from your ‘Matrix’ system, which is deeply flawed in its failure to examine the actual effects of abuse on individuals and their families and compensate for them. As you know, since you were provided with the documentation from a world expert on PTSD many years ago, my father was totally and permanently disabled. There is nothing in the ‘Matrix’ to account for such situations. Accordingly, it cannot be regarded as an appropriate way to calculate compensation sums.

You should be aware that the amount I have stated is a gross underestimation of the true costs your organisation imposed upon my family, but in the interests of speedy resolution of the matter, you will be pleased to know that I am prepared to compromise to this degree, but to this degree only.

I remind you that you have much to be thankful to my father in bringing to your organisation’s attention what happened in Salvation Army children’s homes, so I imagine your gratitude to him will be a factor in your anticipated decision to act without delay in settling this matter.

I also remind you that the average payout in the United States for such matters is in the order of $1 million, so you might also take heart that I am not asking the Salvation Army to make a payment on par with what is happening in the United States. In the near future, I expect to see that organisations such as the Salvation Army are willing to make payments of this magnitude, as this will be what is demanded by a public becoming increasingly frustrated at treatment of institutional abuse victims and their families. You have an opportunity now to demonstrate that you were one of the first organisations off the starting block in a new, fair approach to compensation amounts.

Finally, I remind you that Mr. Bruce Harmer of your communications team expressed his personal support for advocates for needed change within the Salvation Army when I and others were protesting outside your organisation’s Sydney headquarters on 4 April, 2014. Mr. Harmer gave me great heart that your organisation is indeed attempting to change its approach and make a genuine attempt to do things the right way. I trust the same willingness to accept that mistakes were made in the past will come from you.

Please do not delay in your response. I expect nothing less than immediate agreement to my claim. Given a positive response from you, I am willing to forgive that your organisation has stalled me in this matter for as long as it has. I am even willing to forgive what your organisation did in its treatment of my father and his family in the past. Please be aware, however, that my patience is being depleted rather rapidly.

In the interests of full and frank disclosure, please also be aware that I will not be signing any Deed of Release or similar document that, among other things, would require me to keep silent about what has happened. This should be of no concern to you, as you will be able to demonstrate that you and your organisation have, as I say, turned over a new leaf by showing what it is doing for my father’s family. This is an opportunity any rational person would embrace. You can and should regard what you do for my father’s family is a first step in a process of revisiting what has been done to other victims and an opportunity to demonstrate to others that you accept that what you have done is wrong. Far from feeling concerned, you should be feeling quite positive and optimistic about what will flow on from this.

Nor should it be of concern to you that I will continue to advocate for similarly positive treatment of victims and their families who have had their lives badly affected by the Salvation Army. Again, I’m sure you’ll embrace the opportunity to do things right this time when you have done things wrong for so long. Organisations that engage in full and genuine discussions with victims and their families will ultimately find that the good they do will be returned to them in kind. Organisations that persist in being insular in their outlook and that refuse to acknowledge in a meaningful way the harm they have done and the need to undo it will go the way of the dinosaurs.

I stated in my interview with a media representative recently, I believe I can assist the Salvation Army in showing it the right way forward in treatment of victims and their families. This is a standing offer to you and your colleagues. I hope you’ll take me up on it. I’d really love to help. There are many, many others who’d be able to provide the same assistance, and to a better extent than I can. I do hope you’ll listen to what they have to say. Putting your heads in the sand and continuing to ignore those who have valid and well-reasoned criticisms and solutions to the problems your organisation faces will not serve you well. Scapegoating and persecuting whistleblowers will lead to ruination. Continuing to treat victims and their families with contempt will not assist you in the long-run either.

I have recently had it drawn to my attention that my father’s mother was a Salvationist. My father never told her of what happened to him at Alkira as to do so would have broken her heart. I, however, take something positive away from the fact that my grandmother, a very good and kind person, saw enough potential in the Salvation Army when she was a young woman to support it. Despite the appalling revelations about your organisation’s conduct in relation to child protection, redemption, even deathbed redemption, is always an option. If you like, you may like to consider a positive response to me as the first step in the process of necessary “corporate redemption” that Mr. James Condon spoke about recently. As I say, I am happy to assist your organisation again by sharing with it my insights into what it is doing wrong and how it needs to change.

Following on from your positive reply indicating agreement to my terms, I will be happy to discuss with a person you appoint to handle aspects such as how the compensation payment needs to be made in terms of practical issues such as where the funds are to be sent, etc. Again, as I say, I am also happy to assist you in learning more about why what you did was wrong and what needs to change in the future.

I do not need to elaborate my or my family’s needs and problems, as they are none of your business. We have many, and our personal situations are, for the most part, quite bad. I refrain, however, from outlining these because I do not wish you to think that I am asking for ‘help’ from the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army did harm. The Salvation Army must undo that harm. It’s really quite simple. Any language from you indicating that you are agreeing to my request as an incident to ‘helping’ us would be quite inappropriate and I do hope you will not do me the insult of using such language. I also do not wish to elaborate upon our current problems as those who will read this email may become distressed and try to help us themselves, and this is not something I want to happen. It is the Salvation Army that must do the right thing.

You’ve had a very long time to consider matters and I have been completely open about what I expect to see and why I am critical of how your organisation has conducted itself. By now, your organisation has had a long time to read and digest all that I have written about the matter. You don’t need any more time.

I am not prepared to wait much longer. I appreciate, however, that you have your hands full with the ongoing Case Study 10 hearings, but these will soon draw to a close, so you have no reason to delay any further after this. Accordingly, I see no reason for you to be unable to respond positively and in full agreement with my claim by close of business 18 April, 2014.

Following on from that, I look forward to many fruitful discussions with you about the flaws in your systems of justice and other matters that I have direct, personal experience with.

I await your email reply.

Aletha Blayse

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION: HELP OBTAIN JUSTICE FOR LEWIS BLAYSE FROM THE SALVATION ARMYhttp://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/andre-cox-deliver-justice-to-lewis-blayse-and-his-family?utm_medium=email&utm_source=promoted_petitions&utm_campaign=promoted_petition_activation

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5 Responses to Settlement of Lewis Blayse Matter (OR: An Opportunity for the Salvation Army and a New Beginning)

  1. Pingback: Salvation Army Fails in Response to Lewis Blayse’s Family (Or: I Hear Sunbury Court’s Lovely This Time of Year) | lewisblayse.net

  2. snapspaner says:

    A: While this isn’t exactly the “catch more bees with honey than vinegar” approach, I think you have waited long enough and you have mapped out the benefits that will accrue to their side. You might want to follow-up with a VAT type offer, where you will go before the RC and the press with words of a “brave new world” if the Salvos settle with you before the Case 10 hearings are complete.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi Steven,
      No, it was a hard line to take, and that may have been imprudent, but I think they need to understand how they make people feel. And as sardonic as I sound, I actually do think they’ve got a chance to clean up their act if they start listening to their critics. Thanks for advice about further action – very much appreciated.
      Aletha

  3. Rosemary Bateman says:

    I wonder how it might go if one tooka a solicitor/ Barrister with you if you saw in person though?? Oh well maybe not much as the legal system seems to be in with the abusers crowd.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi Rosemary. I take your point, and thanks. A lovely man who’s a solicitor has offered to assist me by being present at any future meeting with the Salvos. However I no longer wish to be face to face with Farthing, Condon, or indeed any of the Salvos, with or without representation. I didn’t like what I saw in these people at the Royal Commission, and the thought of being in close proximity to them again is not a comforting one. I also believe that if they have nothing to hide, they’ll communicate via email.

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