On Tuesday the commission began its fifth inquiry, this time examining cases of abuse at four boys' homes operated by the prominent charity.

Some of the evidence presented today shocked even some survivors and their advocates, including the caging of children, punishment parades, and appalling Dickensian conditions.

The hearing is investigating incidents at the Alkira Salvation Army Home for Boys at Indooroopilly in Queensland, the Riverview Training Farm at Riverview in Queensland, the Bexley Boys' Home in Sydney, and the Gill Memorial Home at Goulburn in southern New South Wales.

The actions of at least five Salvation Army officers are set to be scrutinised by the commission, with 13 former residents of the homes expected to give evidence.