|Now known as Swanleigh, Swan Homes was an orphanage run by |
the Anglican Diocese of Perth
THE torchlight was always the giveaway, the sure sign “they” were coming.
Then the footsteps would creak on the floorboards — softly, taking care not to wake the other boys — before stopping short at one of the beds.
As four-year-old David cried quietly in his bed at Swan Homes, an Anglican orphanage in Middle Swan, he wondered if they had come for him again.
But there was no solace if they took one of his friends, because he knew what horrors awaited them.
For the first time, The Sunday Times can reveal at least four children were abused at the orphanage.
|‘David’, a victim of child sexual abuse at Swan Homes orphanage, is now help-|
ing the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse.
“The kid would be saying, ‘I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go,’ but they’d just manhandle him out. I used to sit there and sob because I knew what was going on.”
David suffered a further five years of abuse in the 1950s before he was adopted out of the orphanage, run by the Anglican Diocese of Perth. He has kept the abuse a secret for six decades — until now.
Last month David, now aged in his 60s, received $80,000 compensation from the Anglican Church and a formal apology from Archbishop Roger Herft.
David said he knew his abuser and provided his name to the Royal Commission. The man died in the early 1990s.
|Swan Homes in the 1950s|
He contacted the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse after he watched a report on the testimony given by a victim of abuse at the WA Christian Brothers-run Bindoon Farm School.
“It’s been 18 months now since I started this and it’s been nothing but stressful, and it hasn’t finished,” David said.
He described compensation from the Anglican Church as “insulting” and told how, more than half a century since the abuse, he showers up to four times a day but feels “like a grot”.
Swan Boys’ Orphanage was founded in 1868 and renamed Swan Homes in 1943.
It has been known as Swanleigh since 1960 and is now a camps and conferences facility. It continues to be run by the Anglican Diocese of Perth.
|'David', fourth from the left, with other boys at the orphanage in the 1950s|
“In respect of Swan Homes the Diocesan director of professional standards is aware of two persons who were abused presenting their cases before the Royal Commission in the private hearings held in Perth,” Archbishop Herft said.
“Four complaints have been made to the Professional Standards Committee and three of these persons have accessed the pastoral care and support scheme of the Diocese which includes counselling, pastoral care, an apology and financial redress.”
The Diocese has not been told a Royal Commission public hearing would be held into Swan Homes.
|The front cover of The Sunday Times — July 9, 1911|
ORPHANS’ HORRIBLE HISTORY REPEATED
DAVID’S harrowing account of his abuse at Swan Homes comes more than a century after The Sunday Times exposed the mistreatment of children at the Perth orphanage.
Between 1907 and 1911, this newspaper investigated the Anglican Church-run orphanage to expose “clerical child slavery”.
An article published in April 1907 revealed a “bully boy” reverend at the orphanage refused to allow a mother to reclaim her children.
The Sunday Times decried the taking of children as private property as a “shrieking anachronism and a gross abuse of privilege”.
“The Sunday Times is going to get those children out,” the page five article states.
“This paper is going to burst the bubble of ecclesiastical arrogance which usurps proprietary rights over human flesh and blood.
“The real guardian of these children is the STATE. The church is merely a deputy guardian liable to be removed at any time.”
The next month, the children were released and the reverend was forced to step down.
It was discovered that orphans were underfed and lacked clothing.
The Anglican Orphanages Committee was accused of being lax in its supervision, leading to unjustified use of corporal punishment.
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