Everyday thousands of children are being sexually abused. You can stop the abuse of at least one child by simply praying. You can possibly stop the abuse of thousands of children by forwarding the link in First Time Visitor? by email, Twitter or Facebook to every Christian you know. Save a child or lots of children!!!! Do Something, please!

3:15 PM prayer in brief:
Pray for God to stop 1 child from being molested today.
Pray for God to stop 1 child molestation happening now.
Pray for God to rescue 1 child from sexual slavery.
Pray for God to save 1 girl from genital circumcision.
Pray for God to stop 1 girl from becoming a child-bride.
If you have the faith pray for 100 children rather than one.
Give Thanks. There is more to this prayer here

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Retta Dixon Survivors Call Royal Commission Findings Farcical and Victim Blaming

Read what Retta Dixon survivors endured following this article
By Ruby Jones
ABC News Australia
"It makes a brief mention of the perpetrators, but that's about it, they've got off,"
says former Retta Dixon resident Barbara Cummings (left) with Lorna Cubillo
 at the site of the demolished home.. (ABC News: Ruby Jones)
Former residents of the Darwin home where Aboriginal children were sexually abused have rejected the royal commission findings as a "farce" and say the final report does not go far enough to condemn the abusers or those who allowed it to happen.

Barbara Cummings and Lorna Cubillo endured hardship and abuse as children at the Retta Dixon home, which housed mainly Aboriginal children who were taken from their families and brought to Darwin as part of the Stolen Generations.

The Stolen Generations (also known as Stolen Children) were the children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments. The removals occurred in the period between approximately 1905 and 1969, although in some places children were still being taken until the 1970s.

Unlike Canada's Residential School program where the object was to 'kill the Indian in the child', most historians believe that it was done to save children from abuse, and /or to preserve the aboriginal race as they were dying in great numbers after the Europeans came.

Darwin hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard extensive evidence about children being sexually abused while at Retta Dixon.

Children at the home were raped, the inquiry heard, including some so badly they were forced to go to hospital where they were watched by their abuser to make sure they did not alert authorities.

There were 16 of us who were rounded up like cattle in a 100 mile radius of Tennant Creek.
Lorna Cubillo

One child was chained to her bed with a dog chain because she suffered from seizures, according to evidence.

The women said they were glad the royal commission made what happened at Retta Dixon public, but they were disappointed by its findings, handed down on Wednesday.

The commission found the organisation did not meet its obligations of care to children, including protection from sexual abuse, and left open the possibility the Commonwealth should have done more to protect children at the home.

"It's blaming the victim basically," Ms Cummings said.

"It makes a brief mention of the perpetrators, but that's about it, they've got off.

"It was a farce in my view, it was a farce."

'Commonwealth was in charge and have to take responsibility'

Ms Cummings was angry the commission was "unable" to make a finding about whether or not the Commonwealth failed in its duty of care.

She said the commission did a lot of work for people interstate, but nothing in the Northern Territory.

"I don't know whether it's because those other groups interstate came from private church groups, that ran those institutions, but here it was the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth have to take some responsibility, as well as the perpetrators," Ms Cummings said.

"The Commonwealth was in charge. The Commonwealth was responsible for all Aboriginal people in the Territory, its only until self government arrived that things started to change."

Lorna Cubillo, who told the commission about being forcibly removed from her family and sent to the home, said the Commonwealth was responsible for her removal.

"There were 16 of us who were rounded up like cattle in a 100 mile radius of Tennant Creek," she said.

"They can deny it but they've had witnesses testify in court that we were removed, so the onus is on them."

The women also rejected a finding that a permanent memorial should be considered for the site where the Retta Dixon home used to be.

"That's a bit silly, because we already have one here and that was done many years ago," Ms Cummings said.

The women said instead of a memorial they wanted the land given back to Aboriginal owners, and a community centre built at the site.

The royal commission's report also found the director of public prosecution's (DPP) decision to drop the case against Donald Bruce Henderson, a "house parent" accused of sexually assaulting children, did not comply with the DPP Guidelines, and was wrong.

There is one currently active police investigation relating to Retta Dixon, but the women said they were not particularly hopeful that those responsible would be held accountable.

Retta Dixon Testimony at Royal Commission

By Xavier La Canna

Darwin's Retta Dixon home was supposed to be a place of God, but that is far from how it was portrayed at a royal commission.

During eight days of hearings in Darwin, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard graphic testimony of what went on at Retta Dixon, a facility that operated from 1946 until 1980.

It was enough to cause some in the gallery of Darwin's Supreme Court to shudder. Others shed tears.

A child at Retta Dixon who suffered seizures was allegedly tied up like a dog to a bed, and fed on the ground with an enamel plate.

Children at the home were raped, the inquiry heard, including some so badly they were forced to go to hospital where they were watched by their abuser to make sure they did not alert authorities.

One man told the inquiry of having to wear nappies to school as a boy to stop the bleeding after being sexually assaulted.

Other children were allegedly flogged with a belt until they bled.

The facility housed mainly Aboriginal children, including many who identified as being part of the Stolen Generations, and had been taken from their families far away.

It was run by Aborigines Inland Mission, a religious group now known as Australian Indigenous Ministry (AIM).

More tears were shed when the royal commission took those who lived at Retta Dixon down to the site where the buildings once stood.

Alleged victims at Retta Dixon are now looking for answers, hoping to see perpetrators brought to justice and trying to make sure the errors of the past are not repeated.

Allegations included rape of children

In the 34 years it operated only one worker at Retta Dixon - Reginald Powell - was ever convicted of crimes allegedly committed there.

Donald Bruce Henderson, worked as a house parent at the Retta Dixon home
 in the Northern Territory. 
Powell admitted molesting a 10-year-old boy and two 13-year-old boys in early 1966, but blamed weariness, work pressures and Darwin's climate for his actions.

He said in statements to police that the affections of the children were "more or less encouraging" him and after apologising for what he did he was handed a $250, three-year good behaviour bond.

What? No gold watch? Why not a gold watch?

But there were numerous other allegations made over the years.

Scores alone concerned one man - paedophile Donald Bruce Henderson - who worked as a so-called "house parent" at Retta Dixon during the 1960s and 1970s.

"Once I was taken to the old Darwin hospital with a bleeding anus from being abused by Henderson. I was about nine years old.
"I was not allowed to speak to the hospital staff as Henderson was standing next to me.
"Sometimes we had to wear diapers to school so the blood didn't come out on the school uniform.
"Some of the other kids at school knew and we used to protect each other if the other kids teased us."
- Kevin Stagg statement to the royal commission

Mr Henderson twice had court action against him for sexually abusing children dropped, once in 1976 and again in 2002.

He was convicted in 1984 of molesting two boys at Darwin's Casuarina Pool, long after Retta Dixon had closed, but was freed on a $500, two-year good behaviour bond.

A police document showed 86 counts against Mr Henderson that included charges of buggery, sexual assault and indecent assaults between 1966 and 1973, were withdrawn by authorities.

References were made at the royal commission to Mr Henderson adopting two children from Retta Dixon, and a note on a police file indicated the sex offender may have been linked to the YMCA.

Other allegations of sexual assault were levelled against Retta Dixon house parents and by younger kids against older ones.

None of the allegations have so far led to convictions.

The royal commission heard that despite some people who worked at Retta Dixon being concerned about mistreatment of the children, police who spoke to a manager at the facility were told he was unaware of the claims.

A dormitory in the Retta Dixon Home, a mission boarding school for
Indigenous children in Darwin in 1958. (National Archives)
Unidentified girl sits in dormitory of Darwin's Retta Dixon Home in 1958.
Resident 'chained like dog'

Lorna Cubillo, 76, lived in the home for about nine years until she was 16.

She told the commission about being groped by house parent Desmond Walter, and then beaten for refusing to clean his residence.

One of the disturbing allegations from Ms Cubillo was that a friend of hers, Ruth Dooney, was chained up like a dog to her bed, from where she was fed on the ground and forced to use a bucket as a toilet.

"Ruth used to have fits and was chained up with a dog chain to her bed because of the fits," Ms Cubillo said.

"[She] often had bad chaffing around her ankle where the chain would rub."

Faeces rubbed in face

There were numerous other types of mistreatment of children at Retta Dixon described during the royal commission.

One witness, known only as AKV to preserve anonymity, said their sister was punished by being tied up and having faeces rubbed in her face.

"My sister would sometimes be tied to the clothesline, or have faeces rubbed in her face, maybe just for looking at Ms Parker the wrong way. [The sister] was very young at the time. I remember one time she was deliberately burnt with hot water by Ms Parker."

Ms Cubillo said she was usually hit with a belt across the legs as punishment.

She told the commision that when she was 14 years old, house parent Desmond Walter made her bleed.

"He hit me on the legs, hands and back. He hit me with the buckle end of the belt and it cut me on my breast, near the nipple," Ms Cubillo said.

Seeking justice: Sandra Kitching stands on the remains of the Retta Dixon home
where she once lived. (ABC News: Xavier La Canna)
Another witness at the hearing, 64-year-old Sandra Kitching, said as punishment for confronting a house parent she was stripped of some of her clothes and chained up in a spare room by a house parent called Mr Pounder.

'Mistakes' in investigation, prosecution

The royal commission heard details of how allegations against Mr Henderson took a long time to be investigated and, despite solid evidence to support the charges, they were dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Former police detective Roger Newman began his investigation into Mr Henderson in the late 1990s and came under fire in the commission for taking too long to find out that Mr Henderson had abused other children in the past.

John Lawrence SC, who represented some of Mr Henderson's alleged victims, grilled the former policeman for not following up witnesses for statements.

"That wasn't something, that wasn't the line of inquiry that I was following and if I've made a mistake now, so be it," Mr Newman said in evidence.

The inquiry also heard that once the investigation had been completed there were problems with the way it was handled by the DPP's office.

Current NT magistrate Michael Carey worked as general counsel to the DPP in November 2002.

He was the one who at the time gave pivotal advice that saw charges against Mr Henderson dropped, shortly before the trial.

"In my view there is no prospect of having this matter go before the jury, let alone obtaining a conviction."
- Former general counsel to DPP (now NT magistrate) Michael Carey in 2002 memo

At the royal commission he said he had no "independent recollection" of the advice, which he admitted did not meet prosecutor guidelines.

The guidelines showed it should have had a reference or analysis for new trials for Mr Henderson, and include references to Mr Henderson's history as a convicted sex offender.

The advice was contentious as the 15 allegations against Mr Henderson had already passed the committal stage of the court action, meaning they were found to have enough evidence to take to trial.

Mr Carey also admitted the decision in 2002 was made within 24 hours of getting the file on Mr Henderson but could not explain why it was done in such haste.

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said there was "crystal clear" evidence to support charges against Mr Henderson.

"In these cases from what you have read there was plainly evidence to support the charges."
- Royal commission chair Peter McClellan to current NT DPP Jack Karczewski

The NT's current DPP, Jack Karczewski QC, said if the charges came before him, he would pursue them.

Where to now for former Retta Dixon residents?

Some alleged victims of Retta Dixon say they are determined to get redress for what they went through, and are seeking fresh charges to be laid against Mr Henderson.

At least one was angry alleged perpetrators did not appear, and thought they were getting off too easily.

After the royal commission wrapped up its Darwin hearings a group formally complained to police to try to get new charges against Mr Henderson laid.

The ABC understands that an NT policeman with the Sex Crimes section sat in on some of the commission hearings, and has been in touch with at least one alleged victim.

Some people who were housed at Retta Dixon are also seeking financial compensation.

The commission heard that one former Retta Dixon resident has been paid nearly $27,000 for abuse suffered in 1975, although the money was said to be for events unrelated to their time at the home.

There is nothing to stop alleged victims at Retta Dixon from claiming Victims of Crime compensation, even though their allegations have not been proved in court.

Such claims are decided on the balance of probabilities, not the tougher test of beyond reasonable doubt, which court cases rely on for convictions.

Some former Retta Dixon residents have pointed the finger at AIM, which ran the home, and want them to pay compensation.

The current head AIM, Reverend Trevor Leggott, apologised at the royal commission for the sexual and physical abuse people suffered at Retta Dixon, but has indicated his group cannot offer money to the victims.

He said to do so would jeopardise the group's current work.

"I know there can be recompense in terms of money, but I know the hurt that has been caused to these people is not going to be fixed by money."
- Reverend Trevor Leggott, general director of AIM

Documents handed to the inquiry showed AIM had net assets of about $4.4 million last year.

Some have said the assets should be sold off to pay for compensation claims, but Reverend Leggott indicated properties were mostly held by trusts and local churches, not by AIM itself.

The inquiry also heard that the Commonwealth Government, not AIM, may have been ultimately responsible for the welfare of children at Retta Dixon.

Other legal options being considered involve civil action against the 78-year-old Mr Henderson.

At the royal commission Reverend Leggott said the proceedings had driven the name of his organisation into the ground.

The Retta Dixon home was levelled by Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and the site where the facility once stood is now a fairly barren public park.

A group of Retta Dixon survivors say they will push to have the land returned to them.