Dilworth Trust Board accepts and is acting on all Independent Inquiry recommendations

Date: 31 Oct 2023

Media release form Dilworth Trust Board

Dilworth Trust Board accepts and is acting on all Independent Inquiry recommendations

The Dilworth Trust Board has fully accepted and is acting on all 19 recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into historical abuse at Dilworth School.

Chairman Aaron Snodgrass said that over the last six weeks, the Dilworth Trust Board has been carefully considering the Independent Inquiry’s Report and recommendations. 

“We have worked closely with the School and Dilworth Response’s specialist team to understand our progress in implementing those recommendations, and where we need to focus moving forward in order to achieve the remainder,” he said.

“Dilworth School’s purpose is to develop young men to be of good character, and support them to achieve their own personal excellence and flourish in life. The Inquiry’s recommendations will assist in the School’s ongoing efforts to ensure the quality of education and safeguarding it provides current and future students.

Mr Snodgrass said that implementing all of the recommendations will also help the Board, Dilworth Response, and the School in their determination to support the healing process.

“The Inquiry’s Report and its accounts of abuse endured by former students - as well as the impact it continues to have on their lives, families and whānau - are distressing.

“On behalf of the Board, I sincerely apologise today to all former students, who suffered abuse while at our School and to their families and their whānau ,” said Mr Snodgrass.

The actions taken since 2018 mean Dilworth is already on the way towards aligning with many of the Report’s recommendations, including:

  • Reporting allegations of historical abuse to the Police, leading to the establishment of Operation Beverly
  • Working with the Police in its investigations and adopting a policy of not seeking name supression when prosecutions are brought before the court
  • Establishing a Listening Service in 2019 for former Dilworth students and providing professional support services for those who need it
  • Establishing the Independent Inquiry and Dilworth Redress programmes
  • Developing and implementing child safe policies, processes, and culture, leading to Dilworth School receiving Child Wise Accreditation in September 2022 – the first school in New Zealand to receive a safeguarding accreditation from an international organisation
  • Creating new roles at the School focused on safeguarding and appointing specialist staff with the necessary experience and expertise.

“There is, however, more to do. The Inquiry’s Report provides a catalyst for further progress, and its findings pinpoint areas which we are now addressing.”

Mr Snodgrass confirmed the Board had already commenced two key governance reform initiatives.

“The Board has appointed an independent external expert to conduct a review of governance at Dilworth, so that we can ensure we have in place the very best competencies and organisational structure to deliver the Dilworth mission. 

“The Board has also appointed educational governance expert, John Morris, to the Board with immediate effect. John Morris was the first Executive Principal of Crimson Global Academy and is a former Auckland Grammar School Headmaster. He will assist in overseeing the governance review and establishing an interim governance structure for the School.”

Mr Snodgrass acknowledged the work required to implement many of the recommendations cannot happen overnight if it is to be done properly.

“That is why we have established detailed action plans for each of the nine categories of Inquiry recommendations:

·      Transforming Dilworth governance

·      Ensuring professional oversight of school performance

·      Assisting recovery from historical abuse

·      Maintaining and enhancing student safety

·      Considering the future direction of the School

·      Improving school systems

·      Vetting, supervising, developing and training staff

·      Supporting students and staff after publication of the Inquiry report

·      Developing positive external relationships.

A summary of the Board’s response to the Inquiry’s recommendations is avaiable on the Dilworth Response website, and progress will continue to be tracked and be publicly available via this Implementation Dashboard.

Working together

“We are grateful for the support of our Dilworth community in our work thus far. In particular, we acknowledge the tremendous bravery and honesty of everyone who spoke to the Independent Inquiry. 

“In accepting and acting on all 19 recommendations, the Board agrees that a respectful, two-way process of engagement is needed with all those who were affected by historical abuse at our School, as well as our wider Dilworth community.  

“We have asked the Dilworth Response team to help us achieve this by working with all survivors of abuse and other former students, their families and whānau. We will listen, we will acknowledge, and we will respect the needs of those who experienced abuse while attending Dilworth School.

“This is at the core of our approach,” said Mr Snodgrass.

Redress and support

In light of the findings of the Inquiry, the Board has revisited the Dilworth Redress Programme Terms.

“We have listened to and acknowledge feedback that the wording relating to a student being sexually abused by another student needs to change and be unqualified. 

“We have worked with the Redress Panel to change and simplify the eligibility for student on student sexual abuse by removing the caveats that the abuse occurred where ‘a Dilworth representative failed to take reasonable steps to protect against the potential for that abuse, or where the sexual abuse was encouraged or permitted by a Dilworth representative’.

“By doing so, we hope to make it easier for cases of a former student being sexually abused by another student to be considered by the Redress Panel.

“The Board remains fully committed to the independent Dilworth Redress Programme, which we firmly believe will serve an important function and purpose in providing redress to promote healing and restoration to former students who experienced abuse while attending Dilworth School,” said Mr Snodgrass. 

“The Redress Programme remains available, and we encourage former students who were abused to register their interest in making applications for redress if they have not already done so,” said Mr Snodgrass.

Any Dilworth former student in New Zealand and overseas can contact the confidential, and independent Listening Service for fully funded access to professional counselling and psychological support by emailing assist@dobsupport.com.​​​​​