On 11 April, I wrote to several high-ranking members of the Salvation Army Australia and elsewhere explaining how it could respond appropriately to the matter of compensation for the family of Lewis Blayse, my father. In this, I indicated a willingness to wait until 18 April, 2014 for a positive response (https://lewisblayse.net/2014/04/11/settlement-of-lewis-blayse-matter-or-an-opportunity-for-the-salvation-army-and-a-new-beginning/).
This elicited a response from ‘major’ Peter Farthing, who said:
thank you for your email. as you mention, I have said I am willing to meet with you, and remain willing.
I think however that I am not the best person to respond to your email properly. My role has been Royal Commission Coordinator, and I am not responsible for ‘claims’ against The Salvation Army. Lieut-Colonel David Godkin, Secretary for Personnel, carries that responsibility, and am cc him.
All the best
The email was cc’d to firstname.lastname@example.org (Dr. Bruce Redman, the new PR man helping the Salvation Army with its PR efforts at the moment, a man with a very big job on his hands given what’s come out of the Case Study 10 hearings), email@example.com (‘commissioner’ James Condon, current Australian Eastern Territory Salvation Army head who apparently still holds his position and who apparently hasn’t had any charges laid against him following the extraordinary revelations about his conduct in the Case Study 10 hearings), firstname.lastname@example.org (Luke Geary, head of Salvos Legal), email@example.com (Australian Salvation Army Media and Communications Office), firstname.lastname@example.org (General André Cox, world Salvation Army head), email@example.com (Richard Munn, Chief Secretary and Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries), firstname.lastname@example.org (David Godkin, new Salvation Army Secretary for Personnel in Australia).
I did not explain to Mr. Farthing that he was the last person in the world I would like to be anywhere near after reading of role in Salvation Army handling of child abuse matters, which you can read about here:
I wrote back instead to all cc’d in on the email addressing Mr. Farthing and Mr. Godkin, in which I said:
I don’t believe we’ve met, Mr. Godkin.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course.”
The 18th has come and gone, with no response from the Salvation Army. I wrote again to the people in the cc list tonight saying:
“Dear Mr. Godkin,
I expect a response either stating that your organisation will compensate my family in the manner I have set out or a detailed explanation as to why it will not.
Please advise immediately.”
In response were two automatic email replies, one from Mr. Farthing and one from Mr. Godkin.
Mr. Farthing’s automatic response said:
“I am out of the office until 30/04/2014.”
Mr. Godkin’s automatic response said:
“I am out of the office until 28/04/2014.”
Given that the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has now completed its Case Study 10 hearings into the Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory, I do not know why Mr. Farthing and Mr. Godkin should now be unavailable to respond to emails.
Given that not a single person from the Salvation Army has responded to my most recent email, and that the two key individuals apparently vested with the authority to handle my matter are off work for the next week or so, I am now of the opinion that the Salvation Army is unlikely to be responding positively to my family’s call for justice. By extrapolation, I feel that my suggested approach to appropriate quantums of compensation to victims of Salvation Army children’s homes and other matters I had hoped to be able to provide constructive advice to the Salvation Army about are unlikely to be part of official Salvation Army policy any time soon.
What I do know, however, is that today the Salvation Army world head, ‘general’ Andre Cox (who, rather than sack James Condon, has just extended his period as Eastern Territorial Australian head), is about to officially open the renovations of the palatial Sunbury Court in England, which are nearly complete. According to the Salvation Army, the first ICO delegates “move in next week.” Sounds like a great bash is being planned!
Perhaps Mr. Farthing and Mr. Godkin are headed to Sunbury Court? If they are, who could really blame them for wanting to be there rather than back in Australia dealing with incomplete business regarding Salvation Army victims and their families? Sunbury Court sounds like an utterly lovely place, as the following description of the premises suggests (see also ‘Read more here’ and ‘See more here’, below):
“Sunbury Court, a fine Georgian mansion overlooking part of the River Thames where pleasure craft and houseboats abound, is but 14 miles from the great metropolis, London. Woven into the fabric of the backcloth which throws into colourful relief this country residence are the gold and silver threads of history and romance.”
“Historical associations are enriched by the close proximity of the beautiful and royal Windsor Castle, a few miles upstream. Almost equally famous, Hampton Court faces the broad river near Kingston-upon-Thames.”
“The grandeur of the crystal chandelier in the lounge is surpassed only by the beauty of the murals, painted in oils on to the plaster by Elias Martin, the Swedish artist, between 1768 and 1780 for the second Earl of Pomfret.”
I’d love to offer a proposition as attractive as a stay at the gorgeous Sunbury Court, if this is indeed where top decision-makers in the Australian and world Salvation Army movement are about to be spending their valuable time, but can’t. In fact, I’m not sure I can offer any accommodation at all, as I am now going to have to figure out a way to save the home in which my father and I lived, which has very special meaning not just for me, but to all members of our family, and which currently looks set to be lost.
I hope readers will understand why it is that I will be a little quiet for a while, as the Salvation Army’s silence on the matter of compensation and my interpretation of such silence means that I believe I am now in a fairly difficult situation in a number of respects, and not just in relation to loss of my father’s and my home. I have to give these my urgent attention. I feel reasonably confident of finding some sort of solution to these matters, but it will take some time. Time during which I may have to step back from writing about the Salvation Army a little.
That does not mean, however, that I am giving up the fight, either on behalf of myself and my family, or on behalf of those I believe have received utterly inadequate responses from the Salvation Army. It also does not mean that I have forgotten that there is much work to be done in respect of what has come out of the Case Study 10 hearings of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the organisational failings of the Salvation Army vis a vis child protection. Nor does it mean that I will not be continuing my discussions with other people who are aware of failings of the Salvation Army organisation in many respects. It just means that I need to retreat for a little while until I’m in a better position to do something constructive.
I will use this time to reflect on where best to direct my efforts over the years ahead to be of most use to those who also have problems with the Salvation Army. And hopefully to resume some sort of coverage of unfolding events at the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, starting with the up-coming Case Study 11 hearings into the experiences of a number of men who were resident at Christian Brothers’ residences in Western Australia and the responses of the Christian Brothers and relevant Western Australian State authorities to allegations of child sexual abuse at the residences.
To all who have offered messages of support, who have written to the Salvation Army, or who have otherwise attempted to assist my family in its quest for justice, I thank you. Thank you particularly to those who signed the petition I set up at Change.org (see below). While it looks at this juncture that nothing has come of things, I feel the opposite is true. It demonstrates that there are those who are concerned about the practices of the Salvation Army in its treatment of victims and their families. This gives me heart that there is some point in pushing on in the near future, however long the journey may take. As I say, however, I may be taking a step back for a little while in relation to the Salvation Army to deal with other matters. I will be back in due course, and I hope that all of you who have written to me or spoken to me about difficulties you’ve experienced with the Salvation Army will stay in touch: I’ll still be offering personal support to anyone who is having their own problems with the Salvation Army for whatever that’s worth.
Read more here:
See more here:
Images above: Salvation Army Sunbury Court, London
Image: Not Sunbury Court; a Salvation Army homeless shelter
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION: HELP OBTAIN JUSTICE FOR LEWIS BLAYSE FROM THE SALVATION ARMY.