The Order of the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God came to Australia from Ireland in 1947. Its first work was a residential school in New South Wales for boys with learning difficulties called Kendall Grange at Morriset Park, in the Hunter region (1948-2000). The Order also ran children's homes and family services in Victoria and New Zealand, but withdrew from providing children's services around 2005. The New South Wales chapter is based in Burwood.
In 2004, Bryce Gaudry, the Member for Newcastle, addressed the NSW Legislative Assembly about the work of St John of God in the Hunter:
For more than 40 years St John of God conducted a residential centre for children at Kendall Grange near Morisset. It had a client group per year of 30 children with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties. Parents were expected to participate in a behaviour management education program, and they and the children were provided with counselling services where necessary.
In 1999 the Department of Community Services area manager approached St John of God with a request that it change from a residential facility catering for children from a number of different Department of Community Services areas to a community-based early intervention service for the Hunter. A number of proposals were developed. The final preference of the area manager was for a non-residential early intervention behaviour management support program. The target group was to be families with children between the ages of 3 and 11 years with behavioural problems.
According to Gaudry, the new early intervention service, St John of God Family Services, started in September 2000 and was officially launched in January 2001. His speech was to urge the Minister for Community Services to keep funding St John of God Family Services, but it appears funding was reduced. The Brothers later withdrew from providing children's services to focus on healthcare.
Some time around 2005 the Morisset site was sold, and by 2008 was in the process of being redeveloped. All the Kendall Grange buildings have been demolished.
A number of members of The Brothers of St John of God have been implicated in abuse cases involving children in their care in Australia and New Zealand, including at Kendall Grange.
Members of the Order of the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God have been implicated in a number of legal cases involving assaults on children in their care across Australia and New Zealand, including at Kendall Grange.
On 9 November 2012 the New South Wales Premier announced a special commission of inquiry into allegations of a cover-up of child sex abuse by priests in the Hunter region. On 10 November 2012 The Sydney Morning Herald stated that St John of God Brothers who had been named in a Victorian inquiry into child sexual abuse had also worked in New South Wales, and been involved in the abuse of disabled boys at Kendall Grange. Some brothers had also been convicted of serious sexual assaults in New Zealand.
Later that week The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a psychologist who conducted investigations into child sexual assault in the St John of God Brothers had discovered many of its members are paedophiles. The sister of an alleged abuse victim also told her brother's story to the newspaper.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Residents lose long fight against Morisset development', abc.net.au, ABC News, 13 December 2005, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2005-12-13/residents-lose-long-fight-against-morisset/760730; 'How church betrayed my brother', The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 2012, http://www.smh.com.au/national/how-church-betrayed-my-brother-20121112-298h3.html; Bibby, Paul; Callinan, Rory; Van Beynen, Martin, 'Accused paedophile on 252 charges sipping tea in Sri Lanka', The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 November 2012, http://web.archive.org/web/20130601103251/http://www.smh.com.au/national/accused-paedophile-on-252-charges-sipping-tea-in-sri-lanka-20121125-2a1ns.html; Bibby, Paul; Callinan, Rory, ''Playboy rapist' sues Catholic order for abuse', The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 November 2012, http://web.archive.org/web/20130505154012/http://www.smh.com.au/national/playboy-rapist-sues-catholic-order-for-abuse-20121124-2a0bi.html; Callinan, Rory; Bibby, Paul, 'Concern for children as 'abuser' flees', The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 November 2012, http://www.smh.com.au/national/concern-for-children-as-abuser-flees-20121126-2a3mi.html; Callinan, Rory; Tovey, Josephine, 'Pell urged to close order over abuses', The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 November 2012, http://www.smh.com.au/national/pell-urged-to-close-order-over-abuses-20121111-296h2.html; Gaudry, Bryce, 'St John of God Family Services', in Hansard: NSW Legislative Assembly by date, NSW Parliament, 12 May 2004, https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Hansard/Pages/HansardResult.aspx#/docid/HANSARD-1323879322-83431; McCarthy, Joanne, 'Tears for 'playboy rapist': father wants justice over alleged attacker', The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 November 2012, http://web.archive.org/web/20130401053105/http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/tears-for-playboy-rapist-father-wants-justice-over-alleged-attacker-20121127-2a4gm.html; O'Neill, Cate, 'St John of God Brothers', Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2009, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/vic/biogs/E000222b.htm; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf; Tovey, Josephine; Nicholls, Sean, 'Premier orders inquiry into church child sex 'cover-up'', 9 November 2012, http://www.smh.com.au/national/premier-orders-inquiry-into-church-child-sex-coverup-20121109-292hz.html; Whitehead, Lisa, Former nun speaks out on child abuse claims, 6 December 2012, http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3651319.htm.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 4 March 2011, Last modified: 28 April 2017