Church Reaffirms Apology to Qld Victims
By Jamie Mckinnellaap
April 22, 2016
Church reaffirms apology to Qld victims
The bishop of Rockhampton has restated an apology to the victims of abuse at a notorious Queensland orphanage after a royal commission found inadequate training of staff contributed to their pain.
A report by the sex abuse royal commission was released on Thursday after last year examining the St Joseph's Orphanage Neerkol, near Rockhampton, which was operated by the Sisters of Mercy between 1940 and 1975.
The commissioners found punishments administered by nuns and other staff were "cruel and excessive" and contravened regulations.
The state government had also failed to supervise and protect the children because it didn't properly train inspectors or provide adequate scrutiny of the orphanage.
The commission accepted Sister Berneice Loch, who became the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Mercy in 1991, and retired Rockhampton Bishop Brian Heenan, didn't receive training in how to detect and respond to complaints.
That had undermined their ability to handle abuse allegations when they began to surface in the 1990s.
But the commission also said Bishop Heenan had placed more children at risk of abuse by paedophile priest Reginald Durham because of his inadequate response to sexual abuse allegations.
Rockhampton Bishop Michael McCarthy said the courageous survivors deserved commendation.
"We hope the Royal Commission process may assist in their healing," he said in a joint statement with Sister Loch.
Since last year's hearing a Child Safeguarding Committee had been formed to oversee all aspects of child protection, he added.
The Sisters of Mercy had also built on measures made available to victims since 1997 and reviewed policies.
"We again reaffirm our apology to the survivors for the pain they endured," the pair said.
"The diocese and the Sisters of Mercy will now carefully consider the report and continue to seek reconciliation with these brave men and women."