A silent vigil by survivors, family and supporters was held in Bathurst in response to the St Stanislaus school “apology” that has offended many.
The silent vigil, held separate to St Stanislaus, was a place for the community to stand in solidarity with the victims, not the institution that abused them.
One of Australia’s oldest Catholic boarding schools is under fire for turning an apology to victims of child sexual abuse into a religious service.
At least 160 students of St Stanislaus College in Bathurst were abused by paedophile priests and staff over three decades, between the 1970s and 1990s.
The school plans to host an “Apology Service of Sorrow and Hope” on Friday night but victims say asking them to attend the school – where the abuse happened – and incorporating the apology into a religious service would trigger painful memories
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said it appeared the school had learned nothing from the lessons of the royal commission.
“We’ve heard story after story, case study after case study which shows how badly institutions have responded in the past,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“You would’ve thought the church and this school would have learnt the lesson, but instead they’re still disrespecting the victims. They’re still prioritising their own needs.”
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“St Stanislaus’ apology is an affront to survivors and victims. To centre the apology around a church service and to hold it on the anniversary of their patron saint’s canonisation shows how little respect they have for the students who were abused.
“The Royal Commission has run for four years so you have to ask what will it take for institutions to start prioritising the needs of those they care for, especially children, ahead of their own?
“You can’t apologise until you comprehend the damage you have done, and this is an institution that is still in denial about the scale of the child sexual abuse that it allowed to happen in its dormitories, halls and chapels.
“Survivors and their supporters will not allow the pain and damage to be whitewashed away with a faux apology. They will be holding a separate vigil on Friday and they are telling this school that they won’t slip away in silence.
“A pretend apology doesn’t end the trauma suffered by those who were abused and it won’t stop the fight for justice.
“This is a hard lesson for Bathurst, but it’s essential they learn about the past and change current practice, to ensure the region’s schools and civic leaders protect this and future generations of children,” Mr Shoebridge said