A joint statement from CEDoW Director of Schools, Peter Turner, and the Executive of the Catholic Principals’ Association of the Diocese of Wollongong, in response to today's National Apology to the Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.
On behalf of Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong and the Catholic Principals’ Association, we commend and declare our full support of the National Apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, delivered today by the Prime Minister in the Parliament of Australia.
The National Apology is a significant step for our country to formally acknowledge the truth and to express sorrow and regret to those who have been so deeply hurt and disrespected. It demonstrates a shared recognition that we are all part of the broader community that failed to do enough to protect children and other vulnerable people.
While symbolic, the apology was heartfelt, genuine and sincere. Most importantly these words of remorse must be matched with action. The Church is seeking to take action with its commitment to a fair and accessible redress scheme and to the provision of ongoing care and pastoral support to those who have been hurt.
Our Catholic schools take their responsibility to provide a safe and supportive environment for each child and young person most seriously. The system of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wollongong has developed policies, procedures and practices to help safeguard the students and staff in our schools. This includes rigorous processes for the recruitment of staff, annual child protection training and compliance updates on professional standards, codes of conduct and mandatory reporting, as well as the delivery of age-appropriate child protection educational programs. We also continually review our practice and seek to build our capacity to protect the children and young people in our care.
The National Apology is an important milestone in the ongoing journey towards healing. We understand that the meaning and significance of today's apology will be quite different for many people and it is vital that we recognise and respect each other's personal and individual experiences.
The National Apology must be embedded in a deep and uncompromising commitment to learn from our history so that the children and young people in our schools can be protected and kept safe. We all have a part to play in this, so in keeping with the spirit of the National Apology, we implore all members of our Catholic schools, parishes and the whole community to remain vigilant and courageous in this commitment.
As faith-based communities of learning, our Catholic schools offer our earnest prayers for the victims and survivors of abuse, their families and supporters, that they can find healing and hope for the future.
Director of Schools
Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong
Catholic Principals' Association, Diocese of Wollongong