Royal Commission 02: Submission Findings – Problems with AOG/ACC & Brian Houston’s Management

Before reading this article, you might want to read the previous articles to develop a framework of what the Royal Commission has uncovered so far in Case Study 18 of the Hillsong Church, Assemblies of God and Frank Houston case:

Royal Commission 01: The Submission – AOG/ACC & Hillsong Exposed
Royal Commission 01.1: The Administration AOG Manual – Excerpt


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - Case Study 18:  a public hearing concerned with the institutional response to child sexual abuse of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and its affiliated churches.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Case Study 18: a public hearing concerned with the institutional response to child sexual abuse of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and its affiliated churches.

The Findings from the submission prepared by Simeon Beckett, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission on 14 November 2014 have exposed shortcomings, mismanagement and conflict of interest of the AOG/ACC executive and its then President, Brian Houston.

These Findings are listed below, along with some relevant Paragraphs from the Royal Commission Submission.

RCFactFile03- Brian Houston Hillsong

The Royal Commission gives the public a rare look at what goes on behind closed doors with the AOG/ACC leadership, and their focus. When reading below, please note the referencing format:

[P..] refers to Paragraph no. and [F..] refers to Findings).

The Findings reveal:

  1. Brian Houston chose to disregard policy, procedures and documenting of important matters
    [F1-4, P90, 92, 97]
  2. The AOG executive [F1-4, P102-104]
    • Accepted Brian Houston’s account regarding the complaint, complainant and perpetrator, and his disregard for following policy and procedures [P92, P96-97, P104]
    • Decided to determine the AHA matter without any proper investigation (according to procedure) [P92a]
    • Accepted Brian Houston’s inappropriate, self appointed role [F3] in AHA’s case and did not protect the interests of Brian Houston, Frank Houston, the AOG churches and the complainant from Brian Houston’s conflict of interest [F2, P108-109]. Brian Houston remained in the meeting when the AOG executive determined the matter of AHA. [P96]
  3. Due diligence was not exercised in order to safeguard the complainant’s interests. [F1] The complainant was not given the option of dealing with a confidential, competent, independent investigation [P92b], where he felt he would be given a fair hearing. Instead, he had to deal with Frank Houston and later, Brian Houston, directly, which he found distressing. [P121,123] [Letter from BTaylor to McMartin May1999]
  4. There was a lack of compassion for, care and follow-up of the victim. [P154-155] No formal notification of outcome, apology or offer of counselling was given by the AOG. [P115]
  5. Care was taken to protect the public face of Frank Houston, his welfare and restoration. [P135]  In 1999 the Assemblies of God offered Frank Houston rehabilitation to ministry contrary to its national policy. [F4]
  6. The AOG took care not to make the offence public, in particular, the Australian AHA matter. [P137-140] There was no formal admission from Frank Houston and he was never referred to police or charged [P92c]. The file was kept in a special cabinet. Information about Frank Houston’s child sex abuse was restricted and controlled, often lessening the offence to “serious moral failure” eg. when notifying ministers confidentially. When communicating, Brian Houston and the AOG regularly rolled the Australian and New Zealand cases into one matter which resulted in the common misconception that Frank’s serious moral failings all occurred in New Zealand.  [AOG Letter to Ministers from John Lewis]
  7. Hillsong Church did not reported the suspension of Frank Houston and the withdrawal of his credential, which was mandatory, to the Commission for Children and Young People. Public knowledge of Frank Houston’s offenses would be an embarrassment to the AOG and Hillsong related churches. [P167-168]

From the RC submission:

P112. It is submitted that the President is responsible for pursuing the aims of the Assemblies of God which include upholding the policies and procedures governing discipline of its ministers. The affiliated churches have an interest in seeing ministers appropriately disciplined to ensure that they do not engage in improper conduct and the movement is not undermined. 


 – Royal Commission material:   (Note: emphasis is added in bold red.)

Note: Referencing eg. [P..] refers to Paragraph number. and [F..] refers to Findings in text below.

FINDINGS from the Royal Commission Submission

“The Findings” below are from the full submission prepared by Simeon Beckett, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission on 14 November 2014.

It is highly recommended to read the original submission. The submission, along with other RC documents, statements, evidence and transcripts can be found at website:
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Case Study 18

Available Findings

1. Between November 1998 and 21 December 1999 the Assemblies of God did not follow its complaint procedure as set out in its Administration Manual when handling AHA’s allegations of child sexual abuse against Frank Houston by:

a. not appointing a contact person for the complainant
b. not interviewing the complainant to determine the precise nature of the allegations
c. not having the State or National Executive interview the alleged perpetrator
d. not documenting any of the steps it took.

2. In 1999 and 2000 Pastor Brian Houston had a conflict of interest in assuming responsibility for dealing with AHA’s allegations because he was both the National President of the Assemblies of God and the son of Frank Houston.

3. In 1999 the Assemblies of God set aside its own policy for handling allegations against ministers, and ignored Pastor Brian Houston’s conflict of interest, in order to permit Pastor Brian Houston to handle the allegations of child sexual abuse against his father.

4. In 1999 the Assemblies of God offered Frank Houston rehabilitation to ministry contrary to its national policy that ministers found to have sexually abused children were not to be rehabilitated, in the knowledge that Frank Houston had admitted to child sexual abuse.

5. In 1999 and 2000 Pastor Brian Houston and the National Executive of the Assemblies of God did not refer the allegations of child sexual abuse against Frank Houston to the police.

6. In 2000 the Sydney Christian Life Centre did not report the suspension and withdrawal of Frank Houston’s credential as a minister to the Commission for Children and Young People as required by s. 39(1) of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 (NSW).

….

22. Australian Christian Churches does not require a person to have an Australian Christian Churches credential in order to call him or herself ‘Pastor’ in an Australian Christian Churches affiliated church.

23. Australian Christian Churches recommends but does not require its affiliated churches to adopt and adhere to child protection policies.

24. Australian Christian Churches recommends but does not require its ministers to adhere to child protection policies.

Simeon Beckett, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, 14 November 2014


Additional Excerpts Related to Management Shortcomings from the Royal Commission Submission

Excerpts below are from the submission prepared by Simeon Beckett, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission on 14 November 2014. Some highlighted segments are related to the management of the AHA case in particular.  The paragraphs are numbered here, as in the original document.

Our emphasis has been added, using red and bold.


89. As mentioned, on 28 November 1999 Pastor Taylor recorded the suspension of Frank Houston as being ‘prospective’. On 21 December 1999 she recorded that she had been told that Frank Houston had preached on 4 and 5 December 1999. There was no written documentation evidencing the suspension by Pastor Brian Houston prior to the National Executive meeting on 22 December 1999. Accordingly, it is submitted that Pastor Brian Houston did not immediately suspend his father’s Ordained Minister’s Certificate on hearing his father’s confession to child sexual abuse but did so between 5 and 22 December 1999.

90. Although Pastor Brian Houston said he may have taken notes at the time, [164] there was no formal record of Frank Houston’s admission. Further, neither Pastor Brian Houston nor the other members of the National or New South Wales State Executive of the Assemblies of God wrote to AHA to inform him of the disciplinary process to be followed under the Administration Manual.

91. The then National Secretary of Assemblies of God, Pastor Keith Ainge, was asked about whether the ‘Complaint Procedure‘ under the Administration Manual had been followed in AHA’s case. He accepted that by 22 December 1999 no ‘independent contact person’ had been appointed to contact the complainant, the complainant had not been interviewed by the State or National Executive and the perpetrator had also not been interviewed. [165] It is submitted that notwithstanding the fact that AHA had not provided a written complaint, the Assemblies of God had, through Pastor Brian Houston, commenced a disciplinary process including ascertaining the allegations, interviewing the alleged perpertrator and suspending him from ministry.

92. On the basis of the evidence set out above it is further submitted that the following breaches of the Assemblies of God Administration Manual occurred

a. The Assemblies of God did not provide AHA with a contact person, contrary to clause 1 of the Complaint Procedure

b. The Assemblies of God did not conduct a ‘full interview’ with AHA to ‘completely document’ his allegations, contrary to clause 2{a) of the Complaint Procedure, and

c. Pastor Brian Houston and not the National Executive interviewed the accused minister, contrary to clause 2(b) of t he Complaint Procedure.

93. In the period 1969-1970 s. 81 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) {Crimes Act), made indecent assault upon a male a criminal offence punishable by five years imprisonment. In 1999, s. 316

(1) of the Crimes Act was in the following terms (1) If a person has committed a serious offence and another person who knows or believes that the offence has been committed and that he or she has information which might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension of the offender or the prosecution or conviction of the offender for it fails without reasonable excuse to bring that information to the attention of a member of the Police Force or other appropriate authority, that other person is liable to imprisonment for 2 years.

94. Pastor Brian Houston gave evidence that in November 1999 Frank Houston told him that he had ‘fondled’ the genitals of a child. [166] The indecent assault of a child contrary to s. 81 of the Crimes Ac was in 1999 a ‘serious offence‘ as defined in s. 311 of the Crimes Act. Frank Houston’s admission to the criminal offence was information which might be of material assistance in ensuring a conviction against Frank Houston and that information was not passed to t he New South Wales Police by Pastor Brian Houston. As that information may relate to contravention of a law of New South Wales it is submitted it is appropriate to refer Pastor Brian Houston’s conduct to the New South Wales Police Commissioner pursuant to s. 6P(l) of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) for further investigation.

96. Pastor Brian Houston chaired the meeting and advised that he had convened the special meeting of the National Executive to consider the allegations against his father. [171] Pastor Brian Houston provided a report in relation to the allegations of child sexual abuse against his father. [172] He accepted he was asked to stand down from the chair because of the conflict. [173] He remained in the room for the entirety of the meeting [174] but, according to Pastor Ainge, did not participate in any of the decision making. [175] Pastor Brian Houston said that he could not chair the meeting because he was ‘a mess’ after he had told the National Executive AHA’s story [176] and was experiencing ‘extreme trauma. ‘ [177] In relation to remaining in the room he said, ‘I think I was a passenger, but I was there. ‘ [178]

97. Pastor Ainge said this was the first time he became aware of the allegations. [179] Pastor Ainge said that Pastor Brian Houston was the sole conduit for information about the allegations at the meeting. [180] He also accepted that it was a failure in his minute taking that he did not record that Pastor Brian Houston stood aside from the chair. [181]

98. Pastor Brian Houston told the meeting that his father had confessed to a single act of sexual abuse of a child 30 years ago. [182] He did not tel l the meeting AHA’s name because he said he thought he was looking after the best interests of AHA. [183] He said that the complainant did not wish to make a formal complaint. [184] It was noted that Pastor Brian Houston had already suspended the credential of his father and this was endorsed by the meeting.[185] Pastor Ainge, confirmed that the allegations and admission were so serious that it was important for the National Executive to deal with the matter even though it did not have a formal complaint.[186]

99. The minutes record that Frank Houston be invited to enter the ‘Assemblies of God restoration program‘ and be placed under the supervision of the New South Wales Superintendent, Ian Woods. [187] He was also to refrain from ‘public ministry‘ for 12 months and would ‘not receive his credential‘ until the New South Wales Superintendent recommended restoration, which could occur only after 2 years. [188] Pastor Ainge said this meant there could be a 12 month period where Frank Houston could minister in public but not as a credentialed minister of the Assemblies of God.[189]

100. The National Executive gave Pastor Brian Houston t he task of conveying the decisions to Frank Houston.

190 It was also agreed that Pastor Brian Houston meet with the complainant to explain the discipline and restoration process, to tell him that his identity had been kept confidential and to offer counselling.[191]

101. The National Executive also determined not to notify the Assemblies of God movement of the disciplinary action ‘in the interest of the complainant‘ and in line with the ‘restoration policy. ‘ [192] In the minutes recorded by Pastor Ainge, and all ten items were agreed by consensus (without a vote).[193]

102. Pastor Ainge accepted that the National Conference of the Assembl ies of God had determined in May 1999 that there was to be no rehabilitation in the case of a minister who committed an act of paedophilia. [194] When asked why, given the policy, t he meeting had considered the rehabilitation of Frank Houston at all, Pastor Ainge said ‘ I wish I could answer that question.’ [195]  He agreed the decision to permit rehabilitation was a breach of the policy adopted in May 1999. [196]

103. Pastor Ainge also agreed that Pastor Brian Houston was a prominent Pastor with the Assemblies of God at the time, he had a very successful church with a growing congregation, a presence on television, he was well known in Australia and had the largest congregation within the Assemblies of God at that time. [197] He said, ‘the pressure … came as a result of the fact that Frank Houston was a well known, respected and appreciated member of the Assemblies of God movement’ and he was a founding member of the Church. [198] Pastor Brian Houston denied that he intended to have the National Executive act contrary to its policy. [199]

104. Pastor Ainge said that the National Executive was ‘not happy‘ to have Pastor Brian Houston take on the roles of communicating with the complainant and his father but ‘we had no access to [the complainant].‘ [200] He agreed that no independent contact person was appointed at that point. [201] He also agreed that the whole matter should have been taken out of Pastor Brian Houston’s hands and passed on to an independent person. [202] Pastor Ainge agreed that the Administration Manual provided for such a process. [203]

105. Pastor Ainge agreed that Pastor Brian Houston had a conflict of interest at the meeting because the allegations were against his father. [204] However, notwithstanding the conflict, the National Executive relied on advice from Pastor Brian Houston that the complainant did not want to go to the police.[205]

106. Pastor Ainge said that there was discussion at the meeting about whether the National Executive was required to compulsorily report the offence to police. [206] In relation to the note in the minutes that ‘legal advice has been obtained as to our obligations in this matter’, Pastor Ainge agreed that the advice related to the matter being taken to the police [207] and said

My recollection is that the advice was that if the complainant was of age – and we’re talking someone who was over the age of 30 – and did not wish us to go to the police and report the matter, then we were not legally required to do it because he had the ability to do it himself. [208]

107. Pastor Ainge said that there was no discussion of payment of money by Frank Houston or Pastor Brian Houston to the complainant at the Special Executive Meeting of 22 December 1999, and that he would have noted it if there was. [209]

108. Pastor Brian Houston accepted that he had responsibility for a number of interests including being the National President of the Assemblies of God, the leader of Hills Christian Life Centre and his father’ s son. [210] However, he did not think at the time, that he had a conflict of interest [211] and said t his did not ‘cross my mind’ at the time. [212]

109. Pastor Brian Houston denied that there was a potential or actual conflict of interest between those roles [213] and said

For a start, I don’t feel I ever thought, from now on, that I could defend my father or my father’s actions, so I don’t feel like I was defending my father. On the Assemblies of God side, I did feel like it was my role to inform others and start the processes and get other people involved in what needs to happen, what needs to come. [214]
…..
Internally, definitely I was conflicted, so I don’t doubt that at all, if you’re talking about my own, you know, coming to grips emotionally with what my father did. But if you ‘re talking about defending my father, I don’t – what he did was undefendable, and so I don’t feel like that was a consideration at all. [215]

110. When asked about whether the payment of money to AHA was mentioned at the meeting, Pastor Brian Houston was ‘not so sure that it wasn’t mentioned‘ but couldn’t say ‘absolutely that it was. ‘ [216] The payment of money to the complainant is not recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

112. It is submitted that the President is responsible for pursuing the aims of the Assemblies of God which include upholding the policies and procedures governing discipline of its ministers. The affiliated churches have an interest in seeing ministers appropriately disciplined to ensure that they do not engage in improper conduct and the movement is not undermined.

113. It is submitted that Pastor Brian Houston had a conflict of interest in dealing with the allegations against his father, including his presence at the meeting of the National Executive on 22 December 1999 and in implementing the decision of the National Executive. It is submitted the conflict of interest was not removed by him stepping down from the chair. He remained in the room, and was able to exert indirect pressure on individuals, such as the National Secretary, because of his prominent position in the Assemblies of God. [220] It is submitted that in 1999 the National Executive of the Assemblies of God set aside its own policy for handling allegations against ministers, and Pastor Brian Houston’s conflict of interest, in order to permit Pastor Brian Houston to handle the allegations of child sexual abuse against his father.

114. It is further submitted that the National Executive acted contrary to its own policy in permitting Frank Houston to apply for restoration of his credential as a minister of the Assemblies of God when he had admitted sexually abusing a child.

Further Contact with AHA

115. After the National Executive meeting of 22 December 1999, AHA did not receive any formal notification of the suspension of Frank Houston or of the offer of rehabilitation, nor was Frank Houston referred to the State or National Executive. [221] The Assemblies of God did not write to AHA to offer him support or sympathy, or to offer an apology for the abuse which one of its ministers had admitted doing to him. There was no written offer of counselling given to him by the Assemblies of God. [222]

116. Pastor Ainge said NSW State President, Ian Woods, told him that ‘Frank was actually attending Ian’s church at that time . … Ian was dealing with him, counselling with him and working with him in relation to [restoration].[223] ••. As far as [Frank Houston] was concerned, his ministry was over; it was all finished.’ [224]

117. AHA said that on or about late 2000, AHA had a meeting with Frank Houston and another man at Thornleigh McDonalds, close to the premises of Hills Christian Life Centre. [225] AHA accepted that the meeting occurred after he received Pastor Taylor’s letter of 16 September 1999, but he could not be more accurate. [226] At the meeting Frank Houston offered AHA $10,000 and said, ‘I want your forgiveness for this. I don’t want to die and have to face God with this on my head. ‘ [227]

118. AHA said he was then passed a soiled napkin by the third man to sign who said, ‘You put your signature there and I’ll give you the $10,000.’ [228] He said Frank Houston said, ‘Just do it and say you forgive me, and that’ll be it.’ After AHA signed the napkin he was told that a cheque would be sent to him and to contact Pastor Brian Houston if there was any problem. [229] He said he did not sign a ‘typed document‘. [230]

119. Pastor Brian Houston said he knew his father had gone to the meeting with AHA with a friend, Nabi Saleh, an elder of Hillsong Church. [231] He said that Mr Saleh told him that he had something to eat and it was possible that he had asked AHA to sign a napkin. [232] Pastor Houston said he recalled a document which was not formal but was shown to him by his father prior to the meeting. [233] He thought it concerned something about ‘we agree this amount of money is final.’ The document was not signed when AHA saw it.[234] He checked to see whether it said anything about ‘keeping [AHA] quiet and it did not. [235] It is submitted that the evidence of AHA in relation to what he signed is to be preferred.

120. In Pastor Taylor’s file note of 19 July 2000 there is reference to a meeting between AHA, Frank Houston and an elder. [236] As this is the first written reference to such a meeting it is submitted that it is more likely t hat the meeting at Thornleigh occurred between 22 December 1999 and 19 July 2000.

121. AHA said that when he had not received the $10,000 as agreed, he contacted Pastor Brian Houston directly by telephone as suggested by Frank Houston at the meeting at Thornleigh. [237] AHA said that Pastor Brian Houston said to him, ‘Yes, OK, I’ll get the money to you. There’s no problem. … You know, it’s your fault all of this happened. You tempted my father.’ AHA said that during the phone call he was not offered counselling by Pastor Brian Houston, [238] but he was told about the suspension of Frank Houston. [239] AHA said that the telephone conversation between them was in ‘late 2000‘ although he agreed that may not be the exact date. [240]

123. Both AHA and Pastor Brian Houston said they only spoke on one occasion, although AHA accepted that he could not recall whether there were others. [245] It is submitted that it is more likely that there was one phone call prior to the 22 December 1999 meeting and another after the meeting.

124. When asked why it was the case that there was no record of the National Executive being informed of the payment to AHA, Pastor Brian Houston said

… the payment of money to [AHA] had nothing to do with the national executive, because I was adamant that this was not about Hillsong; this was not about the Australian Assemblies of God. This payment was between Frank and [AHA]. [246]

125. Pastor Ainge said he later learned of a payment to AHA from Pastor Brian Houston, in 2000, [247] but no payment was recorded in the minutes when the National Executive met to next consider allegations against Frank Houston in November 2000 (see below).

126. AHA said that he decided to not do anything further after he received the money. He said, ‘I was just going to stop at that because I was deeply ashamed and upset with what had taken place and I didn’t want to have any more to do with it.’ [248]

Response of the National Executive

127. Pastor Ainge said that AHA’s allegations against Frank Houston were not further considered until November 2000 because no ‘formal complaint’ was received from AHA and Frank Houston had not formally applied for acceptance into the restoration program. [249]

128. …..

Hills Christian Life Centre Considers ‘Resignation’

135. On 29 November 2000, a meeting of Hills Christian Life Centre was held, chaired by Pastor Brian Houston, in which Frank Houston’s resignation letter of 24 November 2000 [270] was tabled. [271] Pastor Brian Houston said his father was asked to leave Hillsong Church, although it was recorded as a resignation. [272] The meeting determined that a retirement package including financial support would be offered to Frank Houston and his wife. [273]

136. The minutes also record that a ‘simple announcement concerning Frank’s retirement‘ would be made.274 When asked if the announcement was an attempt to avoid mention of the allegations of child sexual abuse, Pastor Brian Houston said that he thought the allegations were well known by that time. [275]

137. At the same time of completing the report on their return from New Zealand, Pastors Lewis and Ainge prepared a statement on behalf of the National Executives of the Assemblies of God in Australia and New Zealand concerning Frank Houston.[276] The statement referred to Frank Houston’s admissions of child sexual abuse as a ‘serious moral failure. ‘ 277 It was proposed that the statement only be used to respond to rumours if Frank Houston engaged in ‘public ministry’, or if the National Executive wished to make a public decision. [278]

138. On 9 May 2001, Neil Hetrick, General Secretary of the Assemblies of God New Zealand wrote to Pastor Brian Houston asking whether a public announcement would be made. 279 Pastor Brian Houston wrote on the letter ‘ … I was in Auckland in April – at this point we are not planning to make a public announcement over here. ‘ 280

139. On 24 December 2001 Pastor Lewis authored a letter, marked ‘extremely confidential’ and addressed ‘To all Ordained and Probationary Ministers of the Assemblies of God in Australia.’ The letter informed the recipients that Frank Houston had admitted to a ‘serious moral failure’ [281] and that Pastor Brian Houston had suspended his father’s credential. [282] Ministers were requested not to announce the disciplinary action at their church or further afield. [283]

140. Pastor Ainge accepted there was no public notification by the Assemblies of God prior to the 2001 letter. [284] Pastor Brian Houston agreed that this was the first time that the Assemblies of God wrote to ordained and probationary ministers of the Assemblies of God ‘as a blanket statement to the entire nation … [B]ut before that… state superintendents, other people … churches that were close to Hillsong … were already in the loop. ‘ [285]

141. However, Pastor Brian Houston said that he had made various announcements across the 12 month period after December 1999 to the board, staff, leaders and at various public church services of Hillsong Church. He said no two announcements were exactly the same, but the recurring theme was that ‘there were victims, people were badly hurt … and more often than not that it involved minors.’ [286] Pastor Brian Houston was asked whether he had told his congregation of the sexual allegations, and he replied that he used the words ‘serious moral failing’ and indicated to them that there were ‘extremely serious offences and that it involves minors.’ [287]

142. Both Pastors Ainge and Brian Houston accepted that they did not consider that other victims might come forward if they publicised Frank Houston’s admissions and action taken in response. [288]

 143. Pastors Ainge and Brian Houston were also asked whether any risk management strategies were put in place at the Church where Frank Houston was to worship. Pastor Ainge sa id the Pastor of Coastlife Church in Erina, New Sout h Wales was told about Frank Houston’s discipline, probably by Pastor Lewis who was managing the process.[289] By 2004 the Pastor at Coastlife Church was aware of his ‘discipline and restoration period’ but sought clarification as to whether it was acceptable for Frank Houston to pray for someone at the altar or deliver a prophetic word. [290]

147. When asked whether he was told that AHG would have preferred to receive compensation and an apology directly from both him and his father, Pastor Brian Houston said ‘I take no responsibility for that whatsoever. ‘ [296]

7. Effect on AHA

152. In his statement to the Royal Commission AHA said that he believes that the abuse inflicted by Frank Houston on him destroyed his childhood [301] and has resulted in long term adverse effects.302 AHA said he dropped out of school in Year 10,[303] he has not had a good work history [304] and is currently on a disability pension at the age of 52.[305]

153. AHA said he has had anger issues306 and suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 307 He also continues to have flashbacks of Frank Houston in his bedroom. [308] AHA said his doctor has attributed his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to the abuse he suffered as a child. [309]

154. AHA said ‘I have received absolutely no support, counselling, apology or acknowledgement of the abuse.'[310]

155. It is submitted that AHA did not receive any acknowledgement from the Assemblies of God that Frank Houston had admitted abusing him. Nor did the Assemblies of God arrange for Frank Houston to provide an apology to AHA. Further, AHA was not formally offered assistance by the Assemblies of God for him to obtain counselling or legal advice.

167. On 7 August 2000 the NSW Commission for Children and Young People sent a letter to the Business Manager at Hillsong City Church acknowledging Hillsong Church’s registration for the Working with Children Check. The letter stated that [I]t is important to remember that any completed relevant disciplinary proceedings must be reported to the Commission. ‘ [339] The requirement applied to all disciplinary proceedings including those completed in the five years before the commencement of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 (NSW) in 2000.

168. Mr Aghajanian accepted that Hillsong Church did not report the suspension of Frank Houston and the withdrawal of his credential to the Commission for Children and Young People. He said ‘the matter was overlooked due to a lack of understanding at the time in the context of complying with the comprehensive legislative child protection regime that came into force in and around the year 2000. ‘ [340]

Source: from the submission prepared by Simeon Beckett, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission on 14 November 2014

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