Dilworth School's board apologises after inquiry finds historical sexual, physical abuse

5:40 pm on 18 September 2023
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An independent inquiry into historical abuse at Auckland's Dilworth boys school has described a "catalogue of damage and injustice". Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The board for Auckland's Dilworth School for boys has apologised after an investigation found dozens of cases of sexual abuse.

Police believe up to 233 Dilworth students were victims of sexual or physical abuse between 1950 and 2018.

Dilworth's Trust Board said it was clear the school had failed to protect its students. It has promised to review the inquiry's findings and says the school has changed since 2018.

In a statement, chairperson Aaron Snodgrass said the independent inquiry had shed light on events and behaviour that should never have occurred.

"The accounts of abuse endured by some former students, and the effect it has had on their lives, are heartbreaking. The report is unsparingly honest about our school's historical failures to protect students. It will help us to learn from our past mistakes, which I hope will contribute in a meaningful way to the recovery and healing process for former students who were abused, their families and whānau," he said.

"The board apologises to all those who suffered abuse while students at our school. We also apologise to their families and whānau. The report makes abundantly clear that it was not their fault - it was their school that failed to protect them and for that we are truly sorry."

The board would carefully consider the findings and recommendations in the report to identify what steps Dilworth needed to take, he said.

In a statement, the school's headmaster, Dan Reddiex, said that there was now "zero tolerance for abuse of any kind" at Dilworth and staff were "committed to providing a safe and caring school environment".

"Dilworth is focused on safety in all aspects of its work and provides expanded avenues for students and parents to speak out against abuse," he said.

He said its current leadership was commended in the review and that its staff were providing a safe environment for current students.

The independent Dilworth Redress Programme had previously said that it would not make determinations about any applications for redress until some time after the independent inquiry's report, he said.

It would not start issuing determinations until the first quarter of 2024, Snodgrass said.

Any former students who were abused could still register their interest in making applications for redress if they had not already done so, he said.

A confidential listening service for access to fully funded professional counselling and psychological support also remained available for these former students, he said.

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