Boys as young as four were punched and others were subjected to public floggings at two Salvation Army homes in Queensland, an inquiry has been told.
Wally McLeod, a resident at Indooroopilly Boys Home and Riverview Training Farm from 1960 to 1966, has told the national royal commission into child sexual abuse that he saw Captain Victor Bennett grab children as young as four and punch them.
This happened at the Indooroopilly home, later named Alkira, when Mr McLeod was sent there at age 12. Both his parents had died and his paternal uncle did not want to continue caring for him, he said on Wednesday – the second day of a public hearing in Sydney.
The commission is examining the responses of the Eastern Territory of the Salvation Army and relevant government agencies to child abuse at four homes – the two in Queensland and another two in NSW.
“Captain Bennett was a violent man, he would go up to children as young as four and punch them on the chin – wherever he could hit,” Mr McLeod said, adding that they “cried and screamed” when he grabbed them by their shirts and struck them around the head and shoulders.
Mr Bennett, now dead, was one of five Salvation Army officers and home managers about whom the commission has received many allegations.
Boys were publicly caned and flogged at both Queensland homes, he said.
They would be told there was going to be a parade in the recreation room and were made to remove their pants and underpants and be called up for a flogging, with either a strap or cane.
One officer at Riverview used a strap from a horse harness.
“I recollect blood blisters,” Mr McLeod said as he told how at Indooroopilly Mr Bennett liked to use a cane with split ends that would pinch the skin.
Mr McLeod moved to Riverview when he was 14 and was there until he was 18.
He said he was never sexually assaulted. He said one boy “tried to take me on – I kicked him with my size eight boot”.
The commission heard on Tuesday that at Riverview there were incidents of bigger boys sexually assaulting younger ones.
Mr McLeod said he was subject to many floggings. “I received 24 hits to my backside in one.”
He also witnessed a boy being hit with a stock whip because he was talking when they were milking cows.
The hearing continues.