From the Principal

The last two weeks have proven to be both controversial and troublesome for De La Salle College and the broader Catholic Church. With the Leader newspaper publishing in the past fortnight details of historical sexual abuse at Malvern and the global news coverage of Archbishop George Pell’s conviction, these are challenging times for those of us in Catholic education. These events and their impact on all associated with our school demand a response, and I know all in our community – students, staff, parents and Old Collegians – have a vested interest in how we are affected and how we deal with the situation.

Those who have been in and around our school for the past few years will know my position on the crimes and sins of abuse that occurred here in our College in the past, certainly in the 1960s and 1970s. Supported by the College Board, Executive Team, wider staff and the Lasallian Mission Council I have written and spoken to reiterate our position, which is unchanging. 

De La Salle College is committed to the safety and protection of all children and young people in our care. We acknowledge and own the crimes of abuse in the past, apologise to any and all victims and commit to any support we may be able to provide. Central to our mission is to ensure all our students are cared for and respected.

All involved at De La Salle offer our prayers, support, guidance and redress to those victims whose trust was betrayed in such treacherous and damaging fashion. I remain open and willing to speak with and support any of our past survivors in the hope that we can provide some level of comfort. 

My decision to postpone our Opening and Welcoming Mass last week, communicated to all families in my letter, was also out of respect for victims and all those affected by the scourge of institutional abuse. I did not feel it was appropriate for the service to go ahead under the shadow of George Pell’s conviction.

What is crucial for all of us now is to focus on the future. Catholic education and Lasallian education is certainly tainted by the events and articles of the past week, and we must maintain our commitment to our victims. However, in addition to that, I believe there is so much more to what we offer our young men at Malvern. In 2019 and beyond, our staff are committed to all that is good about our school and our traditions, combining the best of our 107 years with the innovations and hopes of the future.

There is so much to be proud of and so much to aspire to at De La Salle. We continue to develop wonderful young men of character and empathy through transmission of Gospel values and seeing the potential for good in all. We always have been and always will be, about building positive relationships, emphasising student wellbeing and academic rigour in an environment built on the Five Core Principles of a Lasallian education.

Last week De La Salle College was officially granted Safeguarding Children Program Accreditation by the Australian Childhood Foundation.

In 2017, the College formed a contractual partnership with the Australian Childhood Foundation to ensure compliance with legislative requirements through an independent safeguarding accreditation process. By this time, De La Salle College had developed policies and procedures benchmarked against Ministerial Order 870 and was committed to further enhancing its systems and processes in an emerging environment that had become highly regulated.

In June 2018, the College underwent a Child Safe Standards Compliance Review with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, (VRQA), and achieved compliance with all Child Safe Standards.

As further evidence of our commitment to a safeguarding culture, the College audit demonstrated a very strong commitment to safeguarding children and young people. This includes the Board, Executive Team, the Deputy Principal – Students/Child Safety Officer and all levels of personnel. This is reflected by strong confidence and understanding amongst staff in relation to their roles and responsibilities in keeping children and young people safe from abuse and exploitation.

Historical abuse must remain an issue for contemporary leadership to address, along with the media reports providing varying degrees of accuracy regarding past events at De La Salle College, however, it is important for us to focus on the future. Our school is committed to providing an environment where all students are safe, valued and respected, capable of and encouraged to achieve great things.

Mr Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2019 03 - 7 March 2019