Thoughts of Death:

I became so depressed I barely left home. Sleep was a word. I was frightened; too miserable to do anything. I sat in my bedroom and cried. I sat on the balcony and cried some more. I’d eat nothing for days then I’d eat a pig. The words from Slater and Comben pushed me further into despair every time I thought of them.

I seriously thought about throwing myself under a speeding bus. I’m pleased the bus was late because what was to be revealed later had the leaders of the Anglican Church reaching for their chequebook to spend more money on lawyers.

Seething with anger and blame I dismissed lawyer Simon Harrison. Even though it was a no-win no pay deal and even though Suzanne and I refused to accept any part of the payout offered by the church, and even though he didn’t prove the Anglican Church had the duty of care he still demanded we each pay $15,692.50 plus Master File and GST. What a jolt to the heart that was. (More of that in the section titled News & Information & Doubts & Concerns).

A Diocese of Pinocchio’s:

Gaining confidence, kick-starting my positive attitude, I decided to go out and find the truth. I set out to prove Anglican Church Grafton Diocese was a diocese of Pinocchio’s. The Church’s insulting behaviour, the truth dodging, and the total disregard of the true facts had me manic to find the truth. I was determined to go in hard. I had lived in the home for 14 years and I knew without doubt the Anglican Church had the duty of care. But before I could ambush the church, I had to find the truth in writing.

Hit ‘em in the guts:

Over a period I burdened the post office by sending a mailbag of heated letters to the church giving them hell – hitting them with the truth – cursing their lies. I demanded truthful answers from Bishop Keith Slater and Reverend Comben but they gave me the arse. Time and time again they refused to answer my questions.

Hoping they would crack under pressure again and again I insisted on the truth. They wrote craftily constructed words to put me off track. Hiding behind the banner of their almighty God, the church hierarchy twisted, bobbed and weaved avoiding reality.

But I was relentless in my commitments and pursued them with the vengeance that sat low in my guts. But they bunkered down behind the pulpit and ambushed me with bibles and bullshit. They followed up my cutting remarks with their firm but cowardly letters. They hit me hard with the fictitious “community group had the duty of care” statement every chance they had. I cringed.

Twice they threatened to stop replying to my letters and close the file forever. But I kept finding tit-bits that appeared to stop them from doing that. (At the start, as I was the person who started the battle for the truth, I was branded the “ring leader”)

Barely a day passed that I wasn’t searching for new information or writing letters to the Bishop of Grafton Keith Slater and to a lesser degree, The Most Reverend Dr Phillip Aspinall – Primate - the leader of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Peter Jensen of the Sydney Diocese, and Ms Jenni Woodhouse Chaplain of the Sydney Diocese.

Unfortunately, Archbishop Aspinall was a fence sitter of some repute. I shuddered at his insignificant and cowardly replies. He was about as useless as an ashtray on a motorbike. But as he was the leader of the Anglican Church I continued to write to him because my letters needed to be in his files for reference.

When Ms Jenni Woodhouse was given the important position of Chaplain of the Sydney diocese, to help guide victims through a beautiful field of brightly coloured flowers during their recovery from abuse, she wrote from the heart: “ My priority is to contact the victims, support them and get alongside them, see what they think their needs are and try to meet those needs.”

And: “It’s important to respond to hearing about someone abusing someone’s trust in them or abusing their trust in God because there’s not much worse you can do than that.”

In a 2010 letter from Chaplain Woodhouse, answering my questions to why she didn’t help to have the church admit to the truth of duty of care, she wrote: “Since Pat Comben asked me to leave the matter with him and not have a further role in the process I have been unable to have any input.”

I was staggered to find that the Reverend Comben beat his chest and ordered Chaplain Woodhouse to keep her mouth zipped so the truth would not be revealed.

Two Victories:

At long last I received documents I’d ordered from Freedom of Information. They stated the Anglican Church were the licensing authority for the home; which meant they were the hot favourites to have the responsibility of duty of care. The church’s “community group” never rated a mention. I jumped with glee and joyously picked up the phone and told my sister.

In a letter I advised Bishop Slater of the damning documents. In his return letter he more or less told me to nick off. He wasn’t interested in the truth. I was destroyed. I had a great need to go to Grafton and whack him around the ears with a bible.

Searching for more hard evidence I located a friend, Mr. Tony Madden, J.P. Tony had worked with the Child Welfare Department (later DOCS) for 41 years, with 11 years of those as manager of the Lismore office. As he previously had a day-to-day working relationship with the Anglican home he supported my new found documented facts stating the reasons to why the Anglican Church had the duty of care.

Travelling to Mr Madden’s home in New South Wales to interview him, I was inspired by his no-nonsense and compassionate approach to my cause. Shifting his muscular frame closer to my tape recorder he said: “To my knowledge the Anglican Church had the duty of care. I am prepared to say to any investigative panel that I am quite certain of these facts and I don’t believe that the Anglican Church can distance itself from the duty of care. I am stunned how hard the church work at denying it.”

I gave my precious five-page interview with Mr Madden to Bishop Keith Slater and again rubbed my hands with glee.

But he did not reply nor did he answer any of my questions. I was shattered – a broken man. Depression took over from my anger and again I bunkered down behind the computer and blasted the bishop for ignoring the truth. When he finally answered he still said that, “a community group had the duty of care.”

I’m no tough guy so his disheartening reply spiralled me further into depression. At times I was so frail I wanted to give up. I was told by others to give up. I had sessions with a counsellor and visits to different psychologists or psychiatrists. At one stage I didn’t leave home for a week. I took pills to calm my nerves. I took deep breaths to help me relax but instead I had fainting spells. I tried anti-depressants but for some reason they made me ill. My eyes were dim. My skin was ashen. My body shook with anguish and I cried in unison with nearly every word I typed.

It sounds corny (but I’m into corny), but during those times I thought of the words my sister and I would say during our weakest moments: “Never, ever give up.” It was bloody hard not to give up, but most times that happened I pursued the church with rehabilitated vigour.

A new plan of attack:

Later, while Bishop Keith Slater was busy ignoring me I asked former DOCS manager, Mr Tony Madden J.P. to write a letter to Slater on my behalf, advising him what he knew to be true. He supplied the bishop with legal facts from the Freedom of Information and the Child Welfare Act that proved the Anglican Church had the duty of care and not the ridiculous “community group.”

For about three months the Bishop baulked like a grumpy old goat refusing to answer. He had to be prodded to reply. He wasn’t keen to reply but when he did he seemed to have softened.

In his letter to Mr Madden of June 25, 2008 he wrote. Excerpt: ”I had not intended to correspond further with you in this as we appear to agree on what the records state.”

That was simple, I thought. The bishop agreed with Mr. Madden unequivocally. I was very wary – but he did admit the truth.

With that out of the way, Mr Madden bid me farewell and left me to continue my job, congratulating me on my persistence telling me to put my “sword and shield away.” 

But as soon as Mr Madden was out of the picture, Bishop Slater toughened up and fought on as though he hadn’t received or written any such letter.

There was nothing I could do but to stick it to him again. But no matter how many times I wrote about his agreement with Mr. Madden and how he agreed with what the records stated, he brushed me aside like you would a fly off a pie.

But as I was now armed with more ammunition from Mr Madden I fought back, churning out more gutsy letters, again demanding the truth.

Bishop Slater then made a flurry of attempts to worm his way out of what he had written to Mr. Madden. Again he bellyached that the church was far removed from the home. He bombarded me with past records of the home (which were jumbled tripe).

With no facts to present, again he bleated a “community group had the duty of care.” With no legitimate reason to why the “community group” had the duty of care, I was on to him like stink on a monkey. I wrote more colourful letters blasting him out of the pulpit and into the sin bin.

With the force of their Grafton lawyers behind them, and Mr Garth Blake S.C., the Bishop soldiered on, hitting me with more sophisticated historical claptrap stories of the love of God peppering his letters with more dramatic twaddle about the fictitious “community group who had the duty of care”.

I dismissed all that hogwash with a mass of my own letters, pushing my vocabulary to the limit with my limited education.

Barber’s cat:

Changing tact, I sent a flow of letters to the leader of the Anglican Church of Australia, The Most Reverend Dr. Phillip Aspinall.  I asked him to intervene in Bishop Slater’s irrational comments.

Time and time again Dr Aspinall would write: “I will encourage Bishop Slater to attend to your problem.”

And: “I would encourage you to proceed with faith that Grafton and the Bishop will respond with care, compassion and sensitivity.”

I replied to the Archbishop’s every letter advising him that Bishop Slater refused to attend to the serious problem of child abuse like he’d asked him to. I waited for Aspinall’s words to be honoured. Aspinall gave me hope – but it was false hope. Just like a barber’s cat he was all wind.

On September 29, 2008 I sent a continuous stream of letters to Bishop Keith Slater accusing him, Reverend Pat Comben and the Anglican Church of Australia of “with-holding information and distorting the truth of child abuse”. And, “The church was purposely concealing the abuse of over 100 children for financial gain”.

I accused them of “lying to protect the church so as not to pay compensation to people who may come forward with complaints of abuse”.

There was no response. I became ill. The pain of abuse haunted me again. The black dog came back to sleep with me. No appetite. No hope. Months faded into obscurity. I kicked the black dog up the arse and somehow I recovered and hit out again. I plagued Bishop Slater with more letters. But he didn’t want to know about anything except his beloved “community group”.

Then, I turned tail and got stuck into Archbishop Phillip Aspinall once again. On August 17, 2009 I wrote: “The Anglican Church has shown false and misleading and deceptive conduct. I have no dishonour in saying the Anglican Church is with-holding information and distorting the truth of child abuse.”

And: “Below the surface are some very grubby problems. There are lies, innuendos and deceit and ordained Anglican clergy burying the truth in the sand next to where the ostrich buries its head.”

And: “Bishop Keith Slater continues to tell grim fairy tales; his cold black lies spitting from his mouth whenever they are needed. I was hoping you would be wise enough not to be drawn into his den of lies but it appears you have become a believer. Child abuse is a shameful cruel sin and is not tolerated by decent people. I’m not saying you are lying, but you must think twice about the words of the Anglican Church’s Bishop Slater.”

Even with my dominating words ringing in his ears, this was Archbishop Aspinall’s September 3, 2009 reply to my scathing letter (written by his aid). This was to be Aspinall’s favourite catch-cry for the gruelling months ahead: “The Primate considers that no helpful purpose would be served by continuing this correspondence.”

Sadly enough, the Anglican Church’s fearless leader wasn’t interested in my powerful words. He wasn’t interested in hearing of the abuse of children in an Anglican Church home. He couldn’t give a rat’s bum.

It was shortly after that that I received a ‘friendly’ letter from Bishop Slater offering what he called, a “Truthful Letter of Regret and Apology to Richard “Tommy” Campion.” I advised him I was willing to accept the apology but only if it was truthful. I was shocked and excited with Slater’s offer. He was about to admit the Anglican Church had the duty of care. I cried and phoned my sister.

We beat the bastards!

In the meantime, while the drama with Slater was crawling along at snail’s pace, I received archival Child Welfare documents from former DOCS manager, Mr Tony Madden J.P. What I read took my breath away.

Finally I had the crucial documents that proved without a shadow of a doubt the Anglican Church had the responsibility of duty of care of the Church of England North Coast Children’s Home. The documents proved that I was right all the time and the Grafton diocese really were a bunch of Pinocchios.

The document was a copy of Section 28 of the Child Welfare Act. That meant: The licensing framework at the time was legislated under Section 28 of the Child Welfare Act, which provided for two types of residential care facilities. One was the State-operated establishments and the other denominational homes that meant licenses to run the children’s home (between 1942 and 1983 when the home was functioning) were only granted to approved denominational organizations, of  which the Anglican Church was one. According to the laws of the Child Welfare Act it would not have been legally possible for any type of “community group” to run the home or have the “duty of care.”

The documents proved beyond doubt the Anglican Church had the responsibility of duty of care for the hundreds of children who had lived in the home.

I had a cup of tea and a piece of cake, I cried and hid the documents under my mattress. I phoned my sister, Suzanne. “We won! We won! We beat the bastards,” I hollered.

The truthful apology:

The Bishop wrote his idea of a Truthful Letter of Regret and Apology to me for the abuse I suffered. It was not all truthful and I told him so. His cunning use of words made the church out to be the good guys. He wrote another apology – more crafty words. As far as I was concerned it was not a truthful apology. I got stuck into him and asked him to change it. Then I received another tricky apology. I gave it the flick. I asked for another.

Finally the bishop was on the right track but he still neglected to admit the key words - that the Anglican Church had the duty of care for the home. The words he used were: “ I accept that the Anglican Church was the licensing authority for the North Coast Children’s Home and consequently had attendant responsibilities.” Wrong!

If the bishop was fair dinkum, he would have written the Anglican Church had the duty of care of the home. He would not have written the Anglican Church had “attendant responsibility.”

The Grand Finale:

Because of  Bishop Slater’s poor attempt at telling the truth with his half-hearted apologies, I braced myself for the grand finale. It was time to hit him and the whole body of the Anglican Church, with the mother of all evidence – the truth and nothing but the truth – Section 28 of the Child Welfare Act something that could not be denied.

I was so exhilarated I felt like running madly through the streets of Surfers Paradise wearing a pink tutu and a pair of Dunlop Volleys. I was ready to play my trump card. That, I told Suzanne, would put a stop to the deceit.

That afternoon I went to the park. I climbed a lofty tree, sat in a sturdy fork and made rough notes of how I would word my important letter to Bishop Slater, Reverend Comben, and his comrades. I was going okay until an insect bit me on the elbow. My arm was to swell in a few minutes. I was out of there. It was to ache for a week, driving me nuts.

When the pain subsided a bit, I wrote a letter to Bishop Slater proudly advising him of the information I had from DOCS archives concerning Section 28 of the Child Welfare Act. I explained how it would be impossible for his “community group” to run the home, let alone have the duty of care.

I asked the Bishop to meet with me so I could hand him the documents and discuss the facts. He didn’t answer so I hounded the hell out of him. Still he ignored me. He tried to have me post them to him but I refused. I told him my information was too important to just pop them in the post and have a postman deliver it to his door. I didn’t tell him that I wanted to see the expressions on his face as we went through the evidence page by page.

My time to shine:

Nearly three months went past before Bishop Slater said he would meet with me. I was manic by then. Under his instructions we met at a pissy coffee shop in a Tweed Heads shopping centre near the Queensland New South Wales boarder. Slater advised me he could only stay for five minutes because he was “very busy.” We met. He was with another man with a grim face.

Thinking of what I was about to present the Bishop had my heart beating so rapidly I though I would collapse at his feet. My mind flashed back to the grief he had caused. Now, I thought, it was my time to shine, to rise above the cheap coffee table and present him with the powerful truth. (I wished Suzanne were by my side).

As we sat I asked if anyone wanted a cup of coffee. They didn’t. I had butterflies doing laps of my stomach.

Bishop Slater lacked emotion as I explained what was in the magic envelope. His face was cold as a mother-in-law’s kiss. He looked as tired as I felt; in fact he looked like death warmed up. He played with a big ring on his bony finger.

The man with the grim face who had been glaring at me, suddenly lent toward me and barked: “How do you know it wasn’t the Catholics who run the Home?” I told him not to be foolish. I braced myself thinking how much I would love to make a lunge at his throat.

The bishop interrupted my thoughts and reached for the envelope. In a daze I handed it to him. With that, they were off like thieves in the night. The meeting, one of the most important events in my life lasted five or seven minutes. Alone in the pissy coffee shop I cried.

Even though I sent letter after letter pushing Bishop Slater to respond to my findings of Section 28 of the Child Welfare Act, it took him about two months to answer. Without presenting me with any evidence his letter outlined that my findings were incorrect. He still insisted, “It was a community group who had the duty of care for the home.” I was crushed.

I quickly sent letters to other high-ranking Anglicans in Sydney and Brisbane explaining Bishop Slater’s concealment of the abuse of over 100 children and his denial of the church’s duty of care. They still ignored me. Crushed again.

When Bishop Slater went to the United Kingdom in July 2008 to attend the Anglican Church Lambeth Conference, I received a letter from his Commissary, the Venerable Ken Ezzy. Ezzy said he had the “capacity” to handle my letters while the bishop was away. And it was pretty obvious Ezzy was attempting to clear the waters and make a good impression on me. He wrote: “All I can say is that I feel so sorry that this matter cannot be resolved. From my view, it is tragic that you and the Bishop are looking at the same facts with two different sets of glasses”.

And: “ So again we have two honest and genuine people have to differ”.

No useful purpose:

Throughout the years of turmoil and grief, no matter how many times I advised Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, the leader of the Anglican Church, of Bishop Slater’s behaviour, and how many times I cited documents that proved without doubt the Anglican Church had the duty of care of the home, he took no notice. And no matter how often I asked him to meet with me for a measly ten minutes to discuss the injustice, the usual pathetic reply from his aid once again was: “The Primate does not consider there would be any useful purpose gained by such a meeting”.

Not to my surprise, Bishop Keith Slater stopped answering my letters completely.  But I didn’t take my foot off the accelerator. I wrote him a letter a week specifically asking for a meeting – 90 in all. He still didn’t answer.

I kept writing to Archbishop Aspinall asking for a meeting to discuss the duty of care but he discarded me like a piece of rubbish. Again, on behalf of Aspinall, his aid wrote: “The Primate does not consider there would be any useful purpose gained by such a meeting”.

Comment: I know the Anglican Church recognises that DOCS documents prove that they had the duty of care. But they do not have the strength of character to admit it. Instead, they still are happy to cover-up the truth and thrust the faceless “community group” into the spotlight.

Mr Peter Roland of Foote, Law & Co Solicitors in Grafton, acting for the church, failed to produce any documents to prove a “community group” had the duty of care. In fact, they offered nothing of substance.

Their Senior Council, Mr. Garth Blake, showed no evidence to prove that a “community group” had the duty of care of the hundreds of children who lived in the home for the 50 years it was functioning.

And, not at any time did the Senior Council Blake or Mr Roland dispute that Section 28 of the Child Welfare Act or the Freedom of Information documents that proved the Anglican Church had the duty of care.

Garth Blake S.C. had nothing of substance, the church ambushed me with nothing and they made sure I achieved nothing. (I suggested Bishop Slater to have Garth Blake refund the church’s money). 

The church’s legal team was beaten at its own game.

However, even though I had the evidence and the church had nothing, the high-ranking Anglican Church clergy dug their toes in and refused to budge. They knew if they were to tell the truth it would leave the church wide open for others to come forward to claim compensation for the horrendous abuse they inflicted. There would have been many.

Comment: That the Anglican Church denies victims of their right to compensation for abuse suffered makes them amoral, greedy as pigs and cold-blooded as a snake.

It is the cold cruel lies of the clergy and the greed of the Anglican Church that has prevented the victims from receiving not only a decent compensation, but also an honest apology and the closure they deserve in order to cope with the victimisation.

It was chilling to see how the church cunningly side stepped and dissected the issue of child abuse and duty of care, as they cowardly and unemotionally went about concealing their involvement.

Getting fair dinkum:

It was about time I got fair dinkum. On August 9, 2009 I wrote Bishop Slater this letter. Extracts:

“ I wish to speak of what you admitted in The Australian, that being, “The home was run by a community group”. For you to make that statement to a major media organisation you must have told the truth. The newspaper or the public at large would not expect you lie your lips off or fabricate a story for gain”.

The sign at the entrance read the Church of England North Coast Children’s Home. It did not read it was the Community Group Children’s Home”.

You refuse to meet with me because I am telling the truth and you are lying – lying to protect the church. You are lying in the face of God and in your position as a Bishop of the Anglican Church you are a lair of the worse kind”.

Meet with me and show me that I am wrong. I will apologise for my remarks and give you a hug. I will sign your Deed of Release; accept your truthful apology and the compensation I deserve and get on with my life. It’s as simple as that”.

If a person continually called me a liar I would fight tooth and nail to show them I was telling the truth. But you do not want to do that. Reason being, you are using the Anglican Church law not the law of the Child Welfare Act”.

There was no response from Bishop Slater or Peter Roland of Foote, Law & Co Solicitors. Bishop Slater hasn’t communicated with me to this day.

For a minute, put aside the shocking criminal abuse of children in the care of the Church of England North Coast Children’s Home. The fact remains the duty of care, no matter who was supposed to supervise the home, it was not adhered to according to the licenses and regulations of the Child Welfare Act and the serious commitment given to the Anglican Church when its contract was entered into.

Suzanne says: “The Anglican Church, Bishop Keith Slater, Reverend Pat Comben, and the leader of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr. Phillip Aspinall does no live by the prophecy that they preach – they find it hard to be truthful – they have to be manipulative and protective at all cost. Because of their lying and scheming, no one has been held responsible for the appalling treatment of the children. There was no justice received and there has been no closure.”

The Wrap-up: 

Suzanne and I have been swimming against the current since 2005, battling for the rights of victims of abuse, especially those who lived in the same home as we did. All up, I have written about 480 letters to the Anglican Church, probably more, yeah, there would have to be more.

I received a lot of answers. But it wasn’t often that I got a straight answer or an answer I could put faith in. There were numerous times they didn’t answer at all. If my questions weren’t to their liking they avoided them.

Even though Archbishop Phillip Aspinall also stopped answering my letters and questions, I refused to give up. I clouded him with more letters, facts and questions. Still he refused to respond. I could see the Archbishop had better things to do then deal with my findings of child abuse in an Anglican home.

The Archbishop of Sydney Diocese, Peter Jensen, also gave me the silent treatment. In my opinion, and I’m only referring to the situation in the children’s home in Lismore, he is not what I’d call a loyal person to abused victims. He wasn’t the slightest bit interested in hearing the facts of my story of abuse and duty of care. He made no move to help me or offer advice. He gave me the arse. However, I am not sure why that is because in 2006 Archbishop Jensen made this very important statement to the nation: “I want victims to have confidence that an allegation that they make of sexual abuse will be treated thoroughly and properly and expediently as we can. My concern is for victims who might get the impression that nothing has been changed from the bad old days and might not come forward as a result of that nothing can be further from the truth.”

I didn’t hear of Archbishop Jensen’s heart-warming statement until years later, but in December 10, 2010 I wrote and reminded him. His computer must have blown a gasket because he did not respond.

As a minister of the Anglican Church of Australia and a minister to the people of Australia, Archbishop Jensen has a code of ethics that must be obeyed. But he didn’t. Just like Archbishop Aspinall, and Bishop Slater, he too is full of wind.

During the years of denial the church continued to cause me much pain and sorrow. I continued to have overwhelming feelings of bleakness, and severe emotional stress. I took calming medication and bashed my head against a wall. My body quivered with anguish and spent a lot of time crying. I took advice from various psychiatric specialists but I couldn’t overcome how and why the innocent children in the Anglican home were abused so violently – and why the church continued to avoid the issue.

Black Cloud of Misery:

Because of the years of battling the church my life went down the gurgler with the dishwater. I had finally run out of puff. I had run my race – I had had enough (but in my heart I never gave up).

In October 2010, under a black cloud of misery I signed an Anglican Church Deed of Release accepting a small payment for the abuse I suffered. After I did, I was riddled with guilt. I was so ashamed I had to seek help from a psychiatrist. (At no fault of the shrink, even though I had an appointment, it took several months for it to be fulfilled. I sort of ‘healed’ myself).

A Deed of Release points out certain aspects that are not supposed to be disclosed to the public.  However, I will divulge to you that point 4.2 reads: “Nothing in this Clause 4 is intended to prevent the Releasor from telling his story.” That was my story. Well that was part of my story.

Continued on page 3

If you feel strongly about this can you sign my petition to the Anglican Church here