Dilworth apologises to Old Boy survivors during appearance before Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care

20 October 2022

Media release from Dilworth Trust Board

Chairman of the Dilworth Trust Board Aaron Snodgrass today extended a further public apology to Old Boy survivors of abuse when he presented evidence to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

Mr Snodgrass acknowledged the harm that has been done to Old Boys who suffered abuse during their time at Dilworth School.

“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 occured. It was not your fault. It was your School that failed to protect you,” he stated in evidence.

Mr Snodgrass, an Old Boy of Dilworth School, became Chairman of the Board in 2018 at a time when the extent of historical sexual abuse at Dilworth School was becoming more widely known and understood.

The Royal Commission, seeking the views of a wide range of individuals and institutions to aid them in carrying out their work, called Mr Snodgrass to present evidence today in person on three main aspects:

1. How Dilworth protects it students today, and in particular, the cultural change that has taken place at the School in an effort to make to make it as safe as possible for today’s students and those of the future.

2. The response of Dilworth to the historical abuse of students while they were in the School’s care, and in particular:

i. The establishment of a Listening Service

ii. The establishment of an Independent Inquiry

iii. The establishment of an independent Redress Programme

3. The relationship between Dilworth and the Anglican Church.

Mr Snodgrass outlined the School’s extensive efforts to improve student safety as the extent of historical sexual abuse at the School became better understood.

To further enhance its additional new safeguarding initiatives, Dilworth sought assistance from Australian consultancy Child Wise, an independent social enterprise of Save the Children.

Mr Snodgrass outlined to the Royal Commission how, over the past three years, the Board, headmaster Dan Reddiex and the School’s senior management team, working with Child Wise, have led a programme to create fundamental change in the culture at the School.

“The entire framework for the School, its policies, processes and actions, have been directed in a focused and informed way towards the best interests of the child,” said Mr Snodgrass.

“As a result of the development and implementation of best practice child safe policies, processes and culture, Dilworth School received Child Wise Accreditation in September 2022,” said Mr Snodgrass.

“It is the first School in New Zealand to gain this accreditation. Our people worked hard to achieve this safeguarding milestone – and will consistently work equally hard to maintain it. This accreditation is far from the end of the road, but it is a positive milestone on our continued journey.”

As part of Dilworth’s ongoing co-operation with the Royal Commission, the Board and School have provided School records, statements and other information to the Royal Commission.

Mr Snodgrass’ evidence today provided an update on his statement of April 2021 to the Royal Commission, which described the steps taken by the Board since 2018 to address the historical abuse that occurred at the school, including:

  • Ensuring the safety of current students
  • Assisting Old Boys who were survivors of abuse, and providing them with a form of redress for the harm that they suffered
  • Understanding the extent of the abuse that occurred at Dilworth School, and how it was able to occur.