From the Principal

As evidenced by my statement to the immediate and wider De La Salle community over the weekend, the scourge of institutional child sexual abuse and the revelations from the Royal Commission continue to plague us as a Catholic, Lasallian community.

There are several final points from my letter I would like to reiterate on this wretched series of events in the otherwise proud history of our wonderful College. Firstly, the abuse of any child, irrespective of how long ago it may have occurred, is criminal, abhorrent and goes against everything we stand for at De La Salle College, Malvern. Secondly, I would like to reassure parents and the wider community that the College Executive Team and — together and by association — all staff, have committed an incredible amount of time, effort and resources to develop the most comprehensive policies and practice around Child Protection and Mandatory Reporting. This is supported by thorough and regular professional learning obligations.

As a College we acknowledge, own and apologise for the sins of the past. We are committed to doing all we can to support victims and ensure such transgressions and betrayals of trust are condemned to history.

Finally, despite the pain of the past, I would like to take the opportunity to remind you a Catholic, Lasallian education in 2018 is an opportunity to embrace; full of hope, support, creativity and contemporary learning in a safe and nurturing environment.

On Wednesday morning we held our annual ANZAC Day liturgy. In another terrific example of a well-organised and reverent service, this year’s organising team acknowledged the very special, important and courageous work of war correspondents over the decades and various conflicts. The liturgy was held in the gym as usual but for the first time, all students were seated facing the stage, taking advantage of an upgraded audio-visual and lighting system, with the visuals of the presentations supported by new blackout blinds.

The assembled students’ behaviour and respect for the occasion were exemplary, typical of all our whole school events. I often wonder what is going through the students’ minds in the ANZAC liturgy each year as they reflect thoughtfully and appropriately on the images and stories presented. It must seem such distant history to today’s teenagers, but they understand the respect ANZAC Day engenders and I am sure most boys in the school have a story of a relative who served in one of Australia’s wars.

The excellent ANZAC Day exhibition in the hallway outside Tiverton library – courtesy of our Year 9 students — has a couple of pictures of my father from his time in World War 2. Dad joined up and, to his frustration, his battalion was posted to North West WA to defend the coastline against the presumably inevitable Japanese invasion. He never saw active service, much to his mother’s delight and relief. However, he lived the rest of his life with that nagging feeling of “not doing his bit.” Neighbours who joined up with him fought and died in far-flung Africa, Asia and Europe and for many men of the time, there was that sense of guilt over not having served in combat overseas where others gave so much.

Not long before he died aged 90, I asked dad about the experience of joining up and living through a war. I was particularly interested in a photo of him and about eight local mates mounted on great horses in full military gear, complete with the famous plumed hat of the Light Horse Regiments. Smiling broadly, proudly wearing the uniform, so innocent and seemingly unworried about what might lie before them.

The ANZAC liturgy enables our young men to have some understanding of the situation so many men found themselves in during Australia’s major conflicts. Encouraging the boys to appreciate and understand the true meaning of sacrifice is an integral lesson to think about each time 25 April comes around. I am very grateful for the excellent way staff and students at De La Salle attend to that each year.

Lest We Forget.

Mr Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2018 05 - 26 April 2018