Dilworth School: Survivors call for mandatory reporting of child abuse to police

Two Dilworth School survivors have presented a petition to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry, asking for mandatory reporting of child abuse to police. 

It comes on the final day of witness statements for the faith-based institutional response hearing. 

"Today Greg Evans and I on behalf of 170 Dilworth survivors and friends present a petition calling for a Dilworth law that would require the mandatory reporting of child abuse to police," Neil Harding said.

A law they believe may help ensure no other student experiences the abuse they did while at school.  

Abuse that a former Dilworth Trust Board member of 40 years has apologised for. 

"The sexual abuse at Dilworth was horrible, unforgiveable and caused irreparable harm," former Trustee and Chairman of the Dilworth Trust Board Derek Firth said. 

He said had he known then what he does now, he would have acted differently. 

"We now know that he crossed the boundary in a horrible way having boys sit on his knee and encourage boys to masturbate in class, just appalling," Firth said.

The tip of an iceberg, made up of more than 100 sexual abuse victims Firth said were left to fester when the school was silent about claims of a sinister cover-up. 

"Victims were allowed to fester over these things that were not correct, they were not being corrected so got entrenched in their minds," he said.

Jim Goodwin also received an Anglican education and empathises with other survivors. 

His time at Christ's College in Christchurch was marred by abuse. 

"I'm a survivor of my time there," he said. "I was sexually abused there and also a lot of physical violence."

The college has previously apologised to Goodwin who's been waiting to hear what the Anglican Church has to say.

"I think the Church needs to have more formal monitoring of the institutions under their umbrella," he said.

The Church admitted its systems were broken.

"We are committing ourselves to a complete redesign of the systems and practices and culture that we have in place," Te Pīhopa o Te Tairāwhiti (Bishop of Te Tairāwhiti) Most Reverend Donald Tamihere said.

The closing statements will be heard tomorrow.

In a statement released later on Thursday,  Dilworth Trust Board chairman Aaron Snodgrass acknowledged the harm that has been done to Old Boys who suffered abuse during their time at Dilworth School and further extended a public apology.

"On behalf of the Dilworth Trust Board and Dilworth School, I apologise to all Old Boys who suffered abuse while a student at our School, however that abuse occurred. It was not your fault. It was your School that failed to protect you," Snodgrass said.