PLANS for a liturgy to be incorporated into the St Stanislaus’ College public apology for victims of historical sexual abuse have been met with anger by their families.
They say any religious element in the apology would be a trigger for victims.
Head of college Dr Anne Wenham announced in January plans to hold a public apology in the hope it would offer one step in the healing process for survivors, as well as for their families and friends.
But the idea of any religious ceremony, as announced last week, has outraged both victims and their families, who say being back at the school participating in a religious ceremony could spell disaster.
Carole Nielsen, whose son Tor was the whistleblower on the abuse at the school, said she was furious.
“Can’t they see what they are doing?” she asked.
“For the victims to have to sit through a mass is ridiculous. If anyone from that school had bothered to go to any of the trials, they would know the abuse occurred in prayer meetings at the school.
“This could be a huge trigger for them, and they haven’t even availed themselves of that information.”
Mrs Nielsen said just surviving each day is a fight for many of the students who were victims of horrendous sexual abuse while at the school.
For her own son, life is not good.
“These kids, they’re not all survivors; the vast majority are still victims. They are clinging to life by the fingernails, and going through hell just to get through the day,” she said.
Mrs Nielsen said many victims also feel angry that the school has acknowledged the abuse by Brian Spillane, but not by the other staff.
This stems from a letter written and published on the school’s Facebook page by Dr Wenham, following the sentencing of Spillane in February this year, in which Dr Wenham made reference to the impact Spillane’s actions had on the lives of young boys in his care.
Mrs Nielsen said the failure of the school to acknowledge the other abusers was typical of the cover-up which had dogged the victims since day one.
Acknowledging there are still suppression orders in place against those convicted, Mrs Nielsen said the school didn’t have to name the offenders, just acknowledge their victims.
“That statement doesn’t go anywhere near what needs to be done,” she said.
“It’s pretty much still covering up all the abuse. We’re talking about 160 victims, all of whom have been ignored, and people are really angry about it.
“The truth needs to come out.”