SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Royal Commission Opening Statement

23-Feb-2015

Opening statement made to the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse by Geoffrey Watson SC, representing Knox Grammar at the Commission.

  1. This inquiry will clearly show that, in the past, some very disturbing things happened at Knox Grammar.  As a result students were damaged, some were young men and some were only boys.  The damage extended to the families of those students.  There is no excuse – the school owed a primary responsibility to those students and to those parents to keep them safe from this sort of thing, and the school failed to discharge that responsibility. 
  2. The school humbly and sincerely apologises for its failure.  It apologises to all of those students who were damaged by these events.  It apologises to the parents of those students, and to the other members of their families.
  3. The school also acknowledges that an apology, no matter how sincerely given, can only go so far.  It must be supported by action.  We hope that before the end of this part of the inquiry we will establish that the school has learned from these events.  There have been alterations made to all aspects of the school.  The school governance has changed, as well as the way in which matters of this kind are overseen.  With the assistance of the leading experts in the area, the school has instituted protective measures and controls which, we believe, are at least equal to the best systems currently available in this country.  
  4. The next two weeks or so will be a dark time for many people.  The school wants it known that it recognises the singular importance of this inquiry, and the validity of the process.  It is important that the truth emerges.  This is important as part of the healing process and, from the school’s point of view, it is important from part of the learning process.  On behalf of the school and those other clients I represent, I make a promise that we will continue to cooperate fully to assist the Royal Commission in its task.