Not aware of ‘bad apples’

John Fallon says he never saw a thing.

The former social worker, who was a shift leader at the Dunedin Boys’ Home in the 1970s and 1980s, said he saw no violence or abuse during his time there.

"Some insinuations would be made, and you kept an eye open for it, but nothing ever came of it.

"None of the lads ever came to me with an abuse allegation, and I got on really well with those kids. I used to treat them like human beings."

Instead, Mr Fallon, a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, said there now appeared to be some "scores to be settled" by people "who might have felt oppressed" by discipline during their time at the home.

John Fallon.
John Fallon.

"I would say they probably got put in their place, you know?"

Other institutions, such as Campbell Park School in the Waitaki district, or Epuni Boys’ Home in Wellington, did have a "reputation" for mistreatment, Mr Fallon said.

Some staff at the Dunedin Boys’ Home were also harder than others, but only when boys misbehaved.

He also recalled the words of the home’s former principal, now deceased.

 

"He said to me ‘all of these kids have got rights. One of those rights is to be disciplined. That’s a right for a child’.

"It made me stop and think."

Mr Fallon said he also heard claims of extreme punishments, but saw no evidence of that either.

"Some of that may have happened. I won’t say ‘did’. I certainly knew nothing about it.

"I think there are some cases in there that will be very, very valid. I also think there are a lot of cases in there where someone is looking for money, or bears a grudge.

"There must be some bad apples in that size of organisation ... but I don’t think I met a bad apple, let’s put it that way."

 

Comments

None of the ODT Insight stories move beyond hearsay. If anything, a Royal Commission is needed to get to factual evidence - for everyone's sake.

Speculative discrediting of claims is not helpful either. After all, Mr Fallon was not an inmate.