Kendall Grange, at The Bluff in Morisset Park in the Hunter Region, was established by the Brothers of St John of God in 1948 as a residential school for intellectually disabled boys. It began with 30 boys from Westmead Home, aged six to 16. In 1980 Kendall Grange changed to a residential school for boys with behavioural disorders, and in 1994 it became a residential school for primary school aged boys and girls with behavioural disorders, which operated until 2000. In 2001, after a request from the Department of Community Services, this Home closed and became a community-based early intervention service, St John of God Family Services.
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.
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: 'A Piece of the Story': National Directory of Records of Catholic Organisations Caring for Children Separated from Families, Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission & Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, 1999, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/A-Piece-of-the-Story-Directory-of-Catholic-Records-.pdf; '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, 'Brothers accused of abuse at school for disabled', The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 November 2012, http://www.smh.com.au/national/brothers-accused-of-abuse-at-school-for-disabled-20121109-293eo.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; 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: 19 March 2015