Response to child sex abuse victims 'too little too late'

A FORMER Toowoomba schoolboy who says he was sexually assaulted at school has blasted an offer of counselling as "too little too late".

David Patterson was a student at Toowoomba Anglican College and Preparatory School in 1969/70 when he was eight.

He said he was abused by a teacher and accused of being a liar for reporting it to the school and his parents.

He has since spent time in psychiatric wards, starting with Lowson House in 1978.

He is still on an involuntary treatment order since his most recent admission.

Mr Patterson received a letter from the school on October 12 this year which stated the school regretted its "past failures to protect children in our care" and outlined its determination to provide assistance and support to those harmed.

The letter from TACAPS Head of School Simon Lees also apologised to the victims of child sex abuse, noting there was no record of an apology to past students.

It offered the victims of abuse care and support including external professional counselling, a "full and frank" explanation of all options and independently funded legal advice.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the survivors of abuse and their families," it concluded.

Mr Patterson said he had spent decades in psychiatric wards and his career had been destroyed.

"A nice little chat or two will fix that... right," he said.

Mr Patterson said he wanted to encourage other victims of abuse to come forward.

Mr Lees said the letter was part of the school's ongoing attempts to encourage survivors of historical abuse to come forward.

"It takes on average more than 20 years for someone to report or discuss sexual abuse, so the school believes this sort of action is prudent in helping people to receive proper care and assistance," he said.

"Historically, the letters have been sent mostly to parents but this time we are sending correspondence to former students."

A spokesman for the Anglican Church said apart from letters to parents and survivors of abuse, the Diocese had taken out advertisements in major newspapers to encourage all survivors of abuse to come forward during Brisbane's Royal Commission public hearing in November last year.

"Schools do not handle the response," the spokesman said.

"It is handled by the Office of the Director of Professional Standards for the Diocese."

Assistance available

  • An initial 20 sessions of counselling with an independent registered counsellor of their choosing (i.e. psychologist or psychiatrist) and also ongoing sessions as required;
  • Legal costs of up to $1500 for the survivor to obtain independent legal advice from a lawyer of their own choosing;
  • Refund of school fees to parents of the abuse survivor, or to survivors themselves if the parents are no longer alive;
  • A personal apology from the Archbishop;
  • Ongoing pastoral support.

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