Victim tells of Salvation Army abuse

Graham Rundle says it’s hard to remember how many times he was sexually abused during his years at a Salvation Army boys’ home in Adelaide, but it was at least 200.

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It started when he was eight, just two months after he arrived at the Eden Park Boy’s Home in the Adelaide Hills in 1960.

It involved both older boys and staff, but one man was particularly brutal.

Employee William Ellis sexually assaulted Mr Rundle more than 100 times and was eventually jailed for his crimes.

Appearing before the Royal Commission into child sex abuse in Adelaide on Tuesday, Mr Rundle told how Ellis would blame him or blame the devil after his attacks but would never blame himself.

Mr Rundle said he was sexually assaulted at all times of the day, even during Bible reading sessions, while other attacks came in the library, the staff room, the clothing room and the boiler room.

He said during some incidents Ellis would “grunt” and “I still have nightmares of that sound he made”.

Another former resident, Steven Grant, told how Eden Park had a “culture of humiliation” where boys were punished for no reason.

While a third, who chose not to be named, described Eden Park as a “hell hole” and said going to bed at night was a terrifying experience with boys regularly taken away to bathrooms to be abused.

The commission, sitting in Adelaide for two weeks, will examine the operation of four Salvation Army homes – Eden Park in Adelaide, Box Hill and Bayswater in Victoria and one at Nedlands in Western Australia, between 1940 and 1980.

Counsel assisting, Sophie David, said 13 former residents would give evidence to show that child sex abuse was widespread, unchecked and flourished over a long period of time.

The commission would also hear of the Salvation Army’s response to the abuse, including the payment of 418 compensation claims between 1995 and 2014, worth almost $18 million.

Now 63, Mr Rundle told the commission how he returned to Eden Park in 2000 to try to ease his nightmares which had become unbearable.

“I drove up the driveway and ‘boom’, I was back there,” he said.

“A little kid trapped.”

Mr Rundle said when he first approached the Salvation Army as an adult seeking compensation the organisation did everything it could to stop him.

He has never received an apology.

“The truth is that we don’t ever forget and get over it,” he said.

“Once your childhood is taken from you, it’s gone forever.”

Turkish soldiers killed in blast

A car bomb has killed seven police officers and wounded nearly 30 other people in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir.

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Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the attack during a visit to the United States.

Authorities say a parked car filled with explosives had been detonated by remote control as a minibus carrying police officers turned a corner on a busy street in Diyarbakir.

Seven officers were killed, with another 13 wounded.

(Translated) “I was startled by the sound of a big explosion while on my way home. After parking my car and getting out to see what had happened, I saw smoke coming from close to my house. While I was going through the area nearby, I saw broken glass all over the place and saw that the buildings and a large area were damaged.”

So far, no one has claimed responsibility.

It comes just before Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu was due to visit the mostly Kurdish region.

The region has been overrun by violence since a ceasefire between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and the government collapsed last year.

The government says it has killed thousands of militants since then.

However, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party has claimed responsibility for two car bomb attacks earlier this year in the capital Ankara.

During his visit to the United States for a nuclear security summit, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the attack.

(Translated) “As we corner the terrorist organisations, they show their heinous face through these kinds of attacks. With the support of our people and resolve of our security forces, God willing, we will make sure that terrorism is no longer an obstacle to the progress of our country.”

Mr Erdogan’s remarks have come during a speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington.

But upon arriving, he was greeted by scores of Kurdish-American protesters denouncing his policies in Turkey and calling him a murderer and a terrorist.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International have been demanding Turkey address human rights violations against its Kurdish population.

Along with accusations of corruption and imprisoning his political rivals, Mr Erdogan is also accused of cracking down on press freedom in the country.

At one stage, his appearance at the Brookings Institute was nearly cancelled after his security detail tried to remove a Turkish journalist.

Another Turkish journalist claims he was kicked by bodyguards and prevented from attending, while a third says she was verbally abused.

But even in the face of such controversy, Mr Erdogan remained defiant.

(Translated) “In terms of criticism, I have no problems with anybody whatsoever, but, when it comes to insult and defamation, of course, I have problems. I will thank each and every one of those who criticise me, but, if they were to insult me, my lawyers will go and file a lawsuit.”

Mr Erdogan’s warning comes amid reports the Turkish military is planning to carry out a coup against him while he is out of the country.

The army has denied the claims.

Turkey’s army is historically seen as a defender of secular principles, ousting three elected governments and one prime minister.

But its power has been reduced in recent years, thanks to a succession of legal cases brought on by Mr Erdogan.

 

Hundreds in Guinea get Ebola vaccine

Hundreds of possible contacts of eight people infected with Ebola in Guinea have received an experimental Merck vaccine to try and halt a flare-up of the deadly disease, the World Health Organisation says.

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The United Nations health agency’s office in Guinea said on Friday more than 1000 contacts of the eight latest Ebola cases have been identified and are under medical observation.

In a so-called “ring vaccination” approach, the WHO said almost 800 people have been vaccinated over the past week, including 182 who are considered to be high-risk contacts.

The re-emergence of Ebola in Guinea is the first since the major outbreak in the country was declared over in December 2015.

In the flare-up, there have been eight cases, seven of them fatal, since late February. The WHO said six of the dead were from three generations of the same extended family.

Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, has killed more than 11,300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since emerging in Guinea in late 2013 and causing an unprecedented 20-month-long epidemic.

The WHO said earlier this week that all original chains of virus transmission had now ended, although new clusters of infections would continue to occur due to reintroductions of the virus. The Ebola virus is known to persist in the semen of male survivors for a year or more.

Merck’s VSV-EBOV vaccine was shown in a clinical trial last year to be highly effective in preventing Ebola infection. It has since been used in Sierra Leone to contain a flare-up.

The “ring vaccination” strategy involves swiftly vaccinating anyone who has come into contact with a person infected with Ebola, as well as contacts of theirs.

The WHO said it had a team of 75 staff members working in the affected areas to support the government-led response, including epidemiologists, surveillance experts and infection prevention and control experts.

Salvos had no sex abuse policies

The Salvation Army had no procedures or policies to deal with allegations of child sexual abuse when it started to receive a growing volume of claims in the 1990s, a royal commission has heard.

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The situation was “all new to the organisation”, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse was told in Adelaide on Tuesday.

“Remember, we didn’t really know how to handle this,” former Salvation Army employee relations director Graham Sapwell said.

The commission heard how the army first sought legal advice in 1994 but did not take action to put a policy in place until 1997.

Mr Sapwell rejected suggestions the delay was inappropriate, instead describing it as fortuitous.

He said during that period claims were dealt with on a case-by-case basis and were resolved without litigation.

The royal commission is examining the abuse of children in four Salvation Army homes, at Eden Park in Adelaide, at Box Hill and Bayswater in Melbourne and at Nedlands in Perth from 1940 to the 1980s.

Various former residents have told of the abuse they suffered over long periods of time with the average payment in settled claims being $44,000.

However, the army said it would provide immediate top-up payments to victims if an internal review found their initial settlements were unfair.

Senior army official Commissioner Floyd Tidd said those payments would not have to wait until the introduction of any national or state-based redress scheme for victims.

The internal review is looking at 418 settlements made between 1996 and 2014 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2015.

“If as a result of the review any claims are identified that were not assessed fairly and consistently, the Salvation Army will reopen those claims including making top-up payments in the interim period,” Commissioner Tidd said on Tuesday.

But he said if claims were found to have been assessed fairly and consistently they would not be reopened ahead of the introduction of a national redress scheme.

Such a scheme, that provides equal access and equal treatment for survivors regardless of where they were abused and the institution involved, has been recommended by the royal commission but the federal government is yet to respond.

French fight for their food in Australia, around world

Food has long been a key part of France’s cultural influence — one in three overseas tourists who have been polled cite food as a key reason for their trips there.

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But many food experts suggest the globalisation of food has eroded that appeal.

France is now fighting back with a campaign it calls Good France, dispatching more than a hundred leading chefs abroad to show people what they are missing.

In the kitchen of Sydney’s Sofitel Hotel, Michelin-honoured chef Xavier Mathieu is doing what he loves: cooking French food — beautifully — then arguing passionately for the need to preserve its essence.

(Translated) “The most important thing is to respect the seasons — and, of course, traditional recipes.”

Food writer Michael Symons explains the reputed French genius for cooking.

“If you want subtlety in a kind of temperate climate, cooking, they have been doing it well for a long time and have a lot of technique and training and knowledge of ingredients that makes their food very good.”

But food experts see a clear need behind the French government’s promotional drive, now in its second year, called Good France.

Michael Symons says the French have become the victims of their own success.

“They’ve been so successful, other people have adopted their tricks and have tried to do better. And chefs are sharing their secrets a great deal. So you have a global, high-end style, which I guess we call contemporary or something here?”

But Monsieur Mathieu, whose work has earned the coveted Michelin stars, disputes the idea globalisation has made French food less unique and special.

(Translated)”On the contrary.* Globalisation has been a way for French gastronomy to get better and export French cuisine outside the country.”

Bistro Gavroche is a new restaurant on the Sydney scene.

Its head chef, Frederic Colin, says he is cautiously optimistic.

“The classical dishes will remain as the classical dishes, tradition remains tradition. This restaurant is set up not to be a timeless restaurant, not to be a concept. So we do, like, traditional onion soup here. We do the pate food … You know, we have a strong tradition for charcuterie and cold cuts in France.”

So can the Good France campaign work in Australia?

Chef and author Gabriel Gate says he sees substantial challenges.

“Australians don’t always understand subtle flavour the same way as the French or the Chinese do. So they want the big statement, with big spice and a little bit too much sugar. You know, like the drinks are becoming sweet, the wines are sweet. The wines are very big. It’s just … to be honest, it’s an Americanisation of this part of the world.”

But French ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier says he is confident there is enough room for everyone.

“So you have here, for instance, in Sydney, excellent chefs and excellent restaurants, with a great cuisine based on fusion — Asian influences, Western influences. And that makes Sydney a very good place, in terms of restaurants. But on the other hand, the Old World, the old French cuisine, is more alive than ever.”