The West

Student safety priority: Catholic Church
Student safety priority: Catholic Church

Parents of children attending WA Catholic schools have been assured that safety of their children is of the highest priority and any allegations will be fully investigated as the community braces for a public hearing starting in Perth today that will expose horrific stories of abuse at Christian Brothers' homes.

Catholic Education Office of WA executive director Tim McDonald has written to parents and carers ahead of the public hearing expressing his support for the "critical work" of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

"Though the incidents being examined are some 50 years ago, I am very conscious that the hurt, suffering and sense of betrayal have not diminished with the passage of time for the victims and their families," Dr McDonald said in a letter sent on Thursday.

"I remain hopeful that claims of systemic failures by institutions including the Catholic Church in response to child sex abuse are thoroughly examined so that children will be better protected against abuse, perpetrators held to account and that victims are provided with justice.

"I want to once again reassure you that the safety and wellbeing of your child is and will always be my highest priority. I, together with principals and office staff, will fully investigate any allegation that is put to me and provide counselling and support."

Former residents of the Castledare Junior Orphanage, St Vincent's Orphanage Clontarf, St Mary's Agricultural School Tardun and Bindoon Farm School are expected to tell their stories of abuse at the first case study to be examined in Perth at a public hearing.

International Association of former child migrants spokesman Norman Johnston said the commission would hear allegations that children were abused in Britain before being "chosen" and trafficked to Australia to suffer at the hands of Christian Brothers.

The commission has held 161 private sessions in WA and about 170 WA institutions have been reported to the inquiry.

Dr McDonald said yesterday anybody in the Catholic school community could access counselling by calling 1300 667 700.

A daily vigil would be held at the chapel at the Catholic Education Office in Leederville.

The West Australian

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