Xavier College sexual abuse victims urged to seek advice and support



Geelong Grammar, under the leadership of Principal Rebecca Cody, has formed a Recognition Committee that includes abuse survivors to help guide the school’s response to complaints and now employs a Sexual Abuse Liaison Coordinator.

“There is certainly a clear change in attitude in some schools,” Magazanik said. “You can divide them into two categories: there are those who continue legal trench warfare and aggressively fight every case, while others have appeared flashing in the 21st century and recognize that 40 nuclear weapons are not theirs. are useless. “

Michael Magazanik says “40-step nuclear weapons†are useless in schools.Credit:Penny stephens

Fighting and losing lawsuits “was becoming a matter of reputation in what is an extremely competitive market. [for private schooling]”said Mr. Magazanik.

“Some principals agree that the right thing to do after decades of being bullied is to practice the values ​​they preach. “

Another lawyer for the plaintiffs, Judy Courtin, said: “I totally commend what is happening at Xavier and other schools. But the problem is, the second there is a dispute, the gloves are off and it’s a dirty, dirty fight.

Dr Courtin said the faith-based organizations behind the schools and their insurers still too often challenged allegations of abuse that had already been well established, prolonged the legal process to increase costs, threatened to appeal unfavorable judgments and delayed settlement offers until the day before a trial or days after the proceeding.

The Victorian Education Department has also been charged with brutal legal tactics in cases involving public schools. This is despite the fact that the department is bound by guidelines on “model litigants†under which it is expected to pay legitimate claims without litigation or delay.

Many survivors found the Jesuit religious body behind Xavier, the Company of Jesus in Australia Limited, difficult to manage.

But Melbourne businessman Richard Jabara, an elderly Xaverian who was sexually assaulted at school and is now an ambassador for the In Good Faith Foundation, said creating a support network would help former students who had not yet told their story.

“One of the things about Xavier and a lot of other private schools is that these are lifelong communities that continue through families, marriages, business, sports. You feel guilt, shame and isolation about what has happened to you and you fear what might happen if you are seen to piss off your school, â€he said.

“So for the school to say that it is okay to make it known is something that I support 1000%. “

Former pupil of Xavier Richard Jabara.

Former pupil of Xavier Richard Jabara.Credit:Penny stephens

Mr Jabara was the catalyst for a permanent memorial to be placed on Xavier’s senior campus in Kew in 2015 to recognize victims of abuse.

Mr. Doherty from Xavier said Age that although legal recourse was a very appropriate avenue, schools could not control it, and for survivors it was often a difficult and lonely journey.

He wanted to establish a safe place for those who have suffered in order to “unpack and resolve their trauma and pain†without having to be traumatized again by going to the school premises where their abuse could have occurred.

In good faith, General Manager Clare Leaney said there was “no wrong door” for an old Xaverian to come through for help. Ms Leaney said that in addition to having a sense of justice, many victims of abuse wanted to end their isolation from their school community.

As part of the Xavier model, In Good Faith will be available to help young and old Xavier students with mental health support, navigate the legal system, liaise with the police and deal with financial issues, employment and housing.

An accredited service provider under the Federal Government’s National Redress Program, In Good Faith helps approximately 600 clients across Australia. It will be accessible to former and current Xavier students even if they are involved in a dispute with the religious order responsible for the school.

Mr Magazanik and Dr Courtin also said it was incumbent on plaintiffs’ lawyers to bring more cases to court so that the courts and the public could fully understand the extent of the damage caused.

“We are talking about the only category of injured people who have had to wait decades to be heard by a court,” Magazanik said.

Dr Courtin represented the former St Kevin’s College Paris Street student in a case made public in February last year after it emerged that the school’s former leadership provided judicial references to a former sports coach convicted of sexually abusing Mr. Street.


The fallout saw the departure of school principal Stephen Russell and dean of sports Luke Travers. Earlier this month, Mr Russell’s successor Deborah Barker released an independent review of the school’s culture which found that misogynistic attitudes and sexist language were still an issue 18 months after the Paris Street affair became public and a video recording surfaced of the boys from St Kevin singing a sexist song on a streetcar.

Mr Magazanik said some schools with troubling histories of dealing with sexual abuse had recently appointed women to leadership positions, such as Ms Barker in St Kevin’s and Rebecca Cody in Geelong Grammar, which set up a recognition committee for help guide the school’s response to abuse. case and employed a Survivor Liaison Coordinator.

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