Media Statement | 26 November 2021
Dilworth Class Action representative, and sexual abuse survivor, Neil Harding said Dilworth has been strongly advised not to release any details about any redress scheme until the survivors of sexual abuse at the school are consulted and have agreed.
“A letter has been sent to the Dilworth Trust Board warning them that releasing details of a redress scheme to any other group that is not exclusively survivors without first meaningfully obtaining feedback from the survivors themselves could trigger serious re-traumatisation and harm,” said Mr Harding.
“Sexual abuse is not a game. Despite spending months asking the Dilworth Trust Board and the School to consider our comments in good faith and develop a survivor-focused scheme, they have failed to engage on critical points”
“Instead, the Trust Board and School, who have actively covered up the abuse for years, are paying lip-service to consultation. By designing their own defective scheme without our full input, they are putting their own needs ahead of the survivors’. It’s appalling and designed to retraumatise and disempower survivors of sexual abuse.
“We represent the interests of all men who suffered abuse at Dilworth, and to date we have had over 100 survivors register with us and detail the abuse they suffered at Dilworth. A significant number of others are in contact with us, including witnesses. These are men who have suffered extensive and lifelong harm as a result of the sexual abuse that Dilworth permitted to take place for over more than three decades at the school; a school they were sent to because their family circumstances meant they were vulnerable. They were preyed on at the School - for a number of them by multiple perpetrators.
“It is critical Dilworth respect these men and genuinely provide them the opportunity to voice their views on what proper redress requires
"We have told Dilworth that we will be obtaining this feedback, along with that of experts, and will share this with them so that a best-practice redress programme which is based on honesty and transparency can be developed.
“Dilworth have said they remain committed to confronting this with their community. If they are genuine in that commitment, the basis for any scheme must involve the School fully admitting that they knew about the ongoing abuse and disclosing the role they played in suppressing it for decades and allowing it to continue.
“It is fundamental that any sexual abuse survivor redress scheme provides a safe, independent, and trusted environment for survivors to come forward. For survivors, the school is the place that harboured and supported their abusers.
"The school needs to change its approach and truly illustrate it is now survivor-focused. That is why we have strongly advised Dilworth not to release any details before survivors are consulted. To do so would send a very strong message to the community that they continue to completely disregard the interests of its students, Dilworth has not changed its culture and it’s putting its future in jeopardy,” said Mr Harding.