The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church and an international charitable organisation headquartered in London, England. The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 and started work in Australia in 1880.  

Riverview Training Farm, QLD

On 1 October 1898, the Salvation Army established and opened Riverview Training Farm, QLD (previously been known as Industrial School for Boys Riverview and Home for Boys Riverview) situated at 29 Riverview Road, Riverview QLD. It was originally opened to accommodate for male children sentenced to confinement for training in general farm work. It was licensed under the State Children Act 1911. In 1926, it also became a training farm for British male youth migrants. In 1935, it, again, became an Industrial School until 1956 when it ceased operating as an Industrial School.  

Between 1965 and 1977, Riverview Training Farm was home to boys who were either wards of the State of Queensland, criminally convicted, suffering from family abuse or neglect, or were sent there by their parents.  

In 1969 Riverview Training Farm changed its name to Endeavour Training Farm and ceased its operation in 1973. The boys were moved to Hillsdale Village for Boys at Mulgowie.  

History of Abuse at Riverview Training Farm, QLD

Riverview Training Farm is notoriously known as one of Queensland’s worst ever children’s homes. The boys were forced to work long hours on the farm and in the piggery. It is reported that the boys were locked in cells/cages without pillows or blankets for weeks at a time. When the boys misbehaved, they were flogged, punched and isolated by staff. If the boys tried to escape, the punishment was even worse.  

In 1998, formers residents of Riverview Training Farm made submissions to the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions (otherwise known as the Forde Inquiry). The final report confirmed incidents of unsafe, improper and illegal treatment of children living at Riverview Training Farm, including cases of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. The Forde Inquiry found that there was a generally poor standard of living at Riverview Training Farm. In addition, the Forde Inquiry found that the Queensland government was well aware of the frequent sexual abuse/activity between boys at Riverview Training Farm however, due to a shortage and urgent need of accommodation for ‘unwanted children’, the Queensland government declined to cancel the Salvation Army’s licence over the operation of Riverview Training Farm.  

In January 2014, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard evidence of abuse mainly for the years 1966 to 1977, however, it did hear allegations of abuse dating back to as early as 1936. The Royal Commission found the Salvation Army itself (and in its employees) failed in its duties as follows: 

  • There was a culture of frequent physical punishment which was on occasion brutal by The Salvation Army from 1956 until their closure, which encouraged fear of officers; 
  • Sexual abuse of the boys by officers or employees of The Salvation Army was often accompanied by physical violence or the threat of physical violence; 
  • Captain Victor Bennett (now deceased) engaged in brutal and excessive punishment of the boys under his care as manager of Riverview Boys’ Home between 1969 to 1974;  
  • Captain Lawrence Wilson (now deceased) frequently used cruel and excessive physical punishment against the boys under his care at Riverview; 
  • During Captain Lawrence Wilson’s service as an officer, The Salvation Army did not take any disciplinary action against him for the sexual or physical abuse of boys that occurred at Riverview during his time as a probationary lieutenant between 1957 to 1959 and as manager in 1974; and  
  • During Captain Lawrence Wilson’s service as an officer, The Salvation Army did not take any disciplinary action against him for the sexual or physical abuse of boys that occurred at Riverview. 

Over the past 30 years, the Forde Inquiry, the Royal Commission, along with other inquiries, have found that the Salvation Army and the State of Queensland failed immensely in its management and care of children placed at Riverview Training Farm. All inquiries found, in particular, that sexual and physical abuse of the male children by staff at Riverview Training Farm was brutal and frequent.  

We are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm. If you would like advice in relation to a childhood or adult sexual, physical and/or psychological/emotional abuse claim in any jurisdiction in Australia, please reach out to the author, Emily Wright, at Littles Lawyers today. 

Further Abuse Law information written by our Emily Wright can be found on our website.  

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