Historical Neerkol records destroyed in Brisbane floods

YOU may find yourself coming to several road blocks when you dig into Neerkol Orphanage's dark and horrific past.

Some Neerkol Orphanage records, kept in a basement in a Brisbane city building, were destroyed in 1974 when a flood swept through the state's capital.

The number of records lost is not known.

That's what Department of Families and Communities officer Majella Ryan told the Royal Commission yesterday when she gave evidence regarding the state's role with the orphanage.

However, some records (including documents and files that date back to the early 1900s) were salvaged and stored away.

Ms Ryan told the commission the only records on the orphanage were based at the Queensland archives in Brisbane.

None were available or kept in Rockhampton.

Following Ms Ryan's testimony yesterday was Sister Berneice Loch.

Counsel assisting the commission Sophie David grilled Sr Loch about why she did not contact witness and former resident AYC when the latter first came forward with allegations of sexual abuse at Neerkol.

In 1993, a book written by AYC was the subject of media attention.

AYC described her own sexual abuse, and spoke of how prevalent it was at the orphanage.

Sr Loch also made no attempts to contact the police about the allegations.

Instead, Sr Loch wrote to several media outlets to try to quash the rumours.

In a media release, Sr Loch stated: "Allegations have been made in a book about Neerkol suggesting widespread abuse of children.

"Extensive inquiries from people familiar with the orphanage, Sisters and former pupils, have not unveiled any evidence to substantiate the allegations made in this book.

"Controversy and media sensationalism are part of the promotional activities of the author."

In yesterday's hearing, Sr Loch said she was not trying to protect the church's reputation.

The hearing continues today with more evidence from Sr Loch.

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