THE royal commission will hear how paedophile Edward Dowlan was allowed to continue teaching years after his abuse of children became common knowledge among Ballarat’s clergy.
St Patrick’s College is one of the five Roman Catholic institutions in Ballarat to come under the microscope in a three-week sitting, which starts on Tuesday.
MORE ROYAL COMMISSION COVERAGE:
College headmaster John Crowley, in a statement to students and parents on Friday, said he would attend the hearings. “The coming weeks will be a very difficult time for both victims/survivors of sexual abuse, as well as the broader St Patrick’s College community, including many past Christian Brothers who have committed their lives to educating and inspiring young men in the Edmund Rice tradition,” he said.
“Our thoughts and prayers will be with the victims/survivors throughout this time. It is important that their stories are heard and listened to.
“It is for this reason that I will attend the royal commission as the college’s representative.”
Dowlan was sentenced to 12 months in prison in March for abusing boys at the school in 1973 and 1974, as well as in five other schools. It is expected his victims will give evidence to the royal commission.
Mr Crowley said the school would put on a clear show of support for the three weeks the hearings were happening by tying ribbons to the school’s gate.
“The ribbons are a symbol of our solidarity with past students whose lives have been deeply affected, and in some cases devastated, by sexual abuse,” he said.
“It also represents our acknowledgement and ownership of our history and gives the broader Ballarat community the opportunity to join us in this display of support.”
St Patrick’s Parish Primary School principal Mark Hogbin said his school also supported the inquiry.
“It’s really important to help (the victims). We really support the work of the royal commission,” he said.
While it was his school’s predecessor, run by the Christian Brothers, that will be the focus of the inquiry, Mr Hogbin said their “personal safety” program for students would continue to be a focus while the royal commission was running.