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The De La Salle Brothers are a worldwide religious teaching congregation within the Catholic Church. In 1906, the De La Salle Brothers arrived in Australia to establish catholic schools.
In February 1961, the De La Salle Brothers established and opened Boystown, situated on Telemon Road in Beaudesert, QLD. Boystown Beaudesert was a residential school for disadvantaged boys (boys considered to have behavioural issues) aged between 12 and 16 years old.
On its grounds, Boystown Beaudesert had 7 cottages that accommodated up to 12 boys in each as well as a fully registered secondary school. The development of the boys’ life skills was emphasised at Boystown Beaudesert, along with career planning, recreational pursuits and the learning of modern technology. A focus was also placed on farm work.
Boystown Beaudesert was staffed by De La Salle Brothers who were assisted by some lay employees. Boystown Beaudesert received State Government funding.
After 40 years of operation, Boystown Beaudesert closed in 2001 after the Government made changes to its policy in relation to institutionalised child care.
Boystown Beaudesert has been said to be the most horrific case of systematic and mass child abuse ever to be uncovered in Australia. The below information is a brief overlook of the history of abuse uncovered over the years.
It wasn’t until 1997 that the first complaint was made to the De La Salle Brothers by a survivor of sexual abuse at Boystown Beaudesert.
In 1999, whilst Boystown Beaudesert was still operating, the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions’ final report provided on page 75:
Complaints of excessive corporal punishment at BoysTown emerged from both the evidence of witnesses and departmental files. Other witnesses described the use of certain boys (through the Alderman system) to maintain control through a combination of peer pressure, intimidation and physical assault, and the Friday night ‘biffups’, or boxing matches, which were perceived as punishment. Boys with no boxing skills were forced into the ring with bigger boys who were obliged to keep punching until the Director chose to stop the fight.
Page 77 of the inquiry’s final report provides that there was criticism of BoysTown Beaudesert in the 1970s by departmental child care officers, who commented on Boystown’s “preoccupation with conformity, its degree of regimentation, and the general reluctance on the part of staff to deal with the social and emotional needs of the boys”. In 1978, government child care officers also raised concerns regarding the severe beatings and physical abuse of children at Boystown Beaudesert.
Further in 1999, the Queensland Police Service launched a three year investigation into Boystown Beaudesert, in which two men were charged with 48 offences.
In 2017, the first perpetrator of abuse at Boystown Beaudesert was convicted and imprisoned. Brother Francis Brophy was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for sexually abusing nine children at Boystown Beaudesert. Brother Francis Brophy abused one of the children under the guise of private guitar lessons.
In 2018, Stephen Anthony Gray, a former social science teacher at Boystown Beaudesert, was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment after sexually abusing and preying on children at night whilst they were sleeping.
Survivors have also reported that the Boystown Beaudesert Director, Brother Finbarr, regularly whipped and beat boys with a jockey whip.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse indicated that Boystown Beaudesert has had the highest number of sexual abuse claims made against it than any other single Catholic institution in Australia.
Statistics show that more than 1,600 children passed through the doors of Boystown Beaudesert, and over a quarter of those persons have now sued for civil damages as a result of abuse suffered at Boystown Beaudesert.
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.