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Anger at Salvos' SA abuse payouts

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Abuse survivors have reacted angrily to a Salvation Army decision to top up less than a quarter of compensation claims for South Australian abuse victims.

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The Salvation Army Southern Territory revisited payouts to hundreds of people who were brutally abused in Salvo homes in Adelaide between 1940 and 1990.

The review followed a child abuse royal commission hearing last October, which found the SAST’s approach to redress was legalistic and at times uncaring.

Floyd Tidd, the army’s territorial commander in South Australia committed to a review of the claims during the commission hearing.

He announced on Wednesday the review was completed and 73 of 422 claims had been identified as warranting a top-up payment because victims may not have been “treated fairly and consistently relative to the bulk of other settled claims”.

During the 2015 commission hearing it was revealed SAST paid on average $42,000 to more than 400 claimants and offers varied widely from below $10,000 to $50,000. Four abuse survivors received more than $100,000.

On Thursday Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) executive director Leonie Sheedy slammed the review and said it lacked transparency and independence.

“Homes run by the Salvation Army were cruel places where children were kept in servitude and lived in fear, poorly fed, poorly clothed and barely educated, they were bashed, raped and brutalised,” she said.

Many people had since died without any compensation or even acknowledgment from the Salvation Army, she said.

Sheedy pointed out the Catholic Church had, “quite rightly”, decided compensation should be handled by an external agency – a single federally led independent redress scheme.

She called on the Salvation Army to do the same without provisos.

The Salvation Army Australia has told the royal commission it might back a national scheme but would resist having to contribute to a commonwealth agency if it had no say on the personnel or payments.

Sheedy said the Salvation Army should not have control over who is entitled to compensation.

One man, BMA, told the commission in October of systemic physical and sexual abuse at the Bayswater Youth Training Centre.

When 40 years later in 2006 he sought redress, he was initially offered $7000.

A settlement of $30,000 was later reached.

It is not known if BMA’s case is one of the 73 revisited.

In his announcement Commissioner Tidd said pending the introduction of a national redress scheme, “the interim, top-up payments would provide much needed relief, and a measure of closure, to survivors who were let down by us in the past”.

AAP

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