Salvation Army Feels the Heat

The Salvation Army is the latest institution that has come under the scrutiny of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse.  The Royal Commission has already heard many stories of children being sexually and physically abused in homes run by the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army’s Bexley Boy’s Home in Sydney is said to have ‘rented out’ boys to strangers. One victim reported to the Royal Commission what whilst at Bexley, he was taken by a Salvation Army woman and another man to their home and sexually abused.  He was caned when he reported the abuse to Captain Wilson, who had introduced him to the couple.  Wilson was charged in the 1990’s for buggery, common assault and indecent assault, but later acquitted. The Salvos have nevertheless paid out more than $1.2m to his victims.

Another man reported that after complaining about being sexually abused by another boy, Captain Victor Bennett forcibly had sex with him. The man claims that Bennett locked him in a cage on the verandah, sometimes for weeks at a time with just a bucket in the corner. Salvation Army Officers allegedly forced boys to fist-fight each other for their own amusement at times.  The man stated that he didn’t think he was treated well by the Salvation Army.  They paid him $70,000 and made him sign a Deed of Release, knowing he couldn’t read it.

The Royal Commission heard that after reporting Captain McIvor to Queensland Children’s Services in 1975 for injuring a boy, whistleblowers Major Cliff Randall and his wife were told they were trouble makers by the Salvos headquarters and had to leave the property before the boys came home. Randall stated that McIvor had attacked the boy at the Alkira Boys’ Home in fury, dislocating his shoulder. McIvor is said to have popped the boy’s shoulder back in using a tennis ball and refused to send him to hospital.

About Peter Kelso


I am a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I have been admitted to practice since 1984. I am the principal and founder of Kelso Lawyers which has operated in Newcastle since 1986.

I have been an advocate for compensation for victims of abuse since the commencement of the Victims Compensation Tribunal in New South Wales in 1988. I conduct the largest victims practice in New South Wales. I have a high level of engagement with numerous NGOs such as woman’s refuges, sexual assault services, community organisations and healing centres.

On 31 October 2012 I was a finalist for the Justice Medal, presented by the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales.


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