Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

24 March 2017

On Friday 17 March I received a letter from Sherril Molloy, Executive Director Anglican Schools Commission. I have included snippets of it below:

Today the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began a public hearing into the Anglican Church of Australia at which data from a national analysis of complaints of child sexual abuse reported to dioceses between 1980 and 2015 was revealed.

As expected, the figures for the Diocese of Brisbane were shocking, shameful and profoundly disappointing. The Diocese of Brisbane was found to have had the highest number of allegations of any diocese in Australia (371); the highest number of perpetrators (208) and the highest number of complaints to schools (173).

The figures were expected, not just because of the shocking abuse cases unearthed within the Diocese, but particularly because of how the Diocese of Brisbane handles allegations of abuse.

In her opening address to the Inquiry today, Counsel Assisting Gail Furness, SC, virtually singled out Brisbane as the only diocese in Australia that requires the diocese to be notified of all allegations of child sexual abuse in schools.

This is important as the data collection project only requested child sexual abuse data held by dioceses alone. Anglican Church dioceses were not asked to provide information in relation to complaints from associated institutions (such as schools) if information about those complaints was not already contained in diocesan records. In other dioceses, allegations of child sexual abuse in schools are handled by the school and not reported to the diocese.

In addition, the Brisbane Diocese has, for more than a decade, actively sought out survivors of abuse to encourage them to come forward to receive care and assistance.

This may go some way to explaining why Brisbane’s figures in relation to schools are so high, and while the figures from other major metropolitan dioceses are so low. It does not, however, explain away the fact that the Diocese of Brisbane had so many horrifying cases of abuse as there can be no justification for the failure of the Church and schools to protect children in our care.

Please be aware that at The Glennie School we have strict child protection policies and procedures in place, and all our staff undertake significant, regular training in this regard. The measures put in place to better protect children at Glennie (and other Anglican Schools) include:

  • We have seven trained student protection officers who are supported by a former police detective inspector, a current police detective senior constable and a former State Government senior child safety officer at Anglican schools Commission.
  • All staff have regular training to keep them up to date on legislation and issues about child protection.
  • All potential employees undergo screening and have the legislated requirements to work with children.
  • Background checks are done on all potential employees, undertaken by the Director of Professional Standards.
  • There is mandatory reporting of any and all allegations (or suspicions) of child sexual abuse, to the Principal, the Director of Professional Standards, the police and the State Government.
  • We have regular independent school safety audits to ensure child safety.

In support of the Anglican Schools’ Commission and The Glennie School’s commitment to child safety, we will be undergoing an Independent Student Protection and Working with Children Compliance Audit from Wednesday 19 April to Friday 21 April 2017.

Mrs Kim Cohen

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