Dilworth must be accountable for the role it played in boys being sexually abused at the School

Media statement | 10 October 2021

Dilworth Class Action representative, and sexual abuse survivor, Neil Harding said Dilworth’s announcement to Old Boys of a financial redress scheme for survivors of sexual abuse without first telling survivors, or without first acknowledging and apologising for the role Dilworth played in the abuse, completely fails to account for the significant role the School played in allowing and suppressing the abuse.

"Dilworth have said they remain committed to confronting this issue with their community openly and honestly. This requires the School to be transparent about its knowledge of the ongoing abuse over decades, and to publicly acknowledge and apologise to all the survivors of sexual abuse and their families, not for what the offenders did, but for what Dilworth did.

“A redress programme cannot work without full disclosure of Dilworth’s role in the abuse and Dilworth providing a public acknowledgement and an apology for failing to protect the boys in their care, suppressing knowledge of the abuse, and allowing the sexual abuse to continue.”

“It is also critical that a meaningful redress programme for the sexual abuse survivors is independent from the School. The School caused harm and traumatisation and was party to enabling, continuing and suppressing the abuse – if the School had done what it should have long ago, many of these men would not have been abused.

For these reasons, it is completely inappropriate that Dilworth controls or administers any financial redress programme. A redress programme needs to provide a safe, independent, and trusted environment for them to come forward, as they are able to, over an appropriate period. The very School that harboured their abusers, rejected the courageous complaints of vulnerable young boys and allowed their abuse, is not a safe, independent and trusted environment for them. Independence of the redress programme and the panel appointed to administer it is fundamental.”

“No amount of money will ever be enough to compensate Old Boy survivors for the extensive and lifelong harm the School caused them. The amount of compensation must at least be meaningful and account for the extensive harm caused and the School’s significant role in the abuse.

A recent Court judgment in Australia ordered compensation of $2.7m to a former Geelong College student over the school’s failure to protect him from sexual abuse suffered over 25 years ago. Dilworth’s conduct was more extensive, prolonged and egregious than those circumstances. We would expect that any financial compensation for those who are at the higher end of the range should be in the vicinity of $500,000, having regard to the abuse suffered and the conduct of the School.”

“Dilworth has said that one of its priorities is ‘how best to approach redress for survivors’ and that its proposed Scheme will be ‘survivor focused’. If that is the case, Dilworth needs to ensure it properly and genuinely consults with survivors of sexual abuse.”

“Dilworth needs to take consultation with survivors and the establishment of a truly comprehensive and restorative redress scheme very seriously. The Dilworth Class Action is on behalf of all survivors of sexual abuse, not just those who have actively registered. We remain committed to holding Dilworth accountable for its role in allowing the systemic sexual abuse to happen over many years and obtaining meaningful compensation and redress for survivors.”

“The survivors voice must be heard and respected. We will not give up.”

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