Open letter to parents
Last week, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse finished its public hearing in Brisbane. The hearing focussed on the circumstances relating to the abuse of 13 children who were students at a Toowoomba Catholic school in 2007-2008.
The children’s suffering, inflicted by the heinous crimes committed against them, and the subsequent impact on their families, weighs heavily on our hearts and minds.
We are very conscious that many other people have been affected by what has occurred and that the revisiting of these events, through the Royal Commission may call into question your confidence in the Church and Catholic Education.
We offer our sincerest apologies for the failings of our Church and education community in responding to the reports of abuse.
The perpetrator, who was employed as a teacher at the school, is now in prison for the offences.
Additionally, the employment of three Catholic Education staff, including the school’s former principal, was terminated.
We continue to reflect on what has happened and by listening to those who have been hurt, we continue to learn together how best to assist with the needed healing and reparation.
The safety of children in our schools remains paramount and their protection is our highest priority.
As a Diocese, it is a compulsory requirement that all new staff (teaching and non-teaching) in Diocese of Toowoomba Catholic Education schools undertake training in student protection at the commencement of their employment. In addition, all staff are required to undertake annual training in student protection. This regular and rigorous training includes the mandatory requirement of staff to immediately report to police all allegations of sexual abuse or suspected sexual abuse.
Our policies and procedures for student protection are publically available on this website by clicking this link: www.twb.catholic.edu.au/Board/Pages/GuidelinesSP.aspx.
Our prayers, discernment and ongoing reflection will continue to focus on the children and their families of our Diocese and, in particular, those at the centre of this horrific ordeal.
If you would like more information, or to discuss this further, please contact your school’s principal.
Bishop Robert McGuckin John Borserio
Bishop of Toowoomba Director, Catholic Education Office
Our vision is to offer life-long Catholic Education so that each person may know and come to be identified more fully with the living Spirit of Christ. This Spirit, working through the faith community, calls all involved in Catholic education …. to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with their God. (Micah 6:8)
Defining feature 2014: Attentiveness to the Life-Giving Presence of God