Principal welcomes inquiry

KINROSS Wolaroi School princial Brian Kennelly welcomed the royal commission into child abuse and pledged to work “openly and transparently” with it in relation to incidents of abuse that occurred at the school in the 1970s and 80s.

Mr Kennelly said he hoped the royal commission would provide an opportunity for healing, justice and reconciliation for all those who have suffered.

Since the arrest and subsequent sentencing of former preparatory school principal and convicted paedophile John Kennett in 1998, Mr Kennelly said the school had introduced several measures in an attempt to ensure no students were abused.

He said the school had amended its policies and procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students. 

“In addition, we have identified steps to be taken by the school so as to minimise the risk of such an incident occurring again,” he said.

Mr Kennelly acknowledged the pain and suffering of those who experienced abuse in any circumstances, particularly at the hands of an institution, however, he was unable to discuss Mr Kennett’s case in detail.

“The matter was subject to criminal and civil action, which resulted in an agreed settlement,” he said.

“The school is bound by a confidentiality agreement, which applies prospectively.”

Mr Kennelly said there were protocols in place to protect children from abuse.

“The school has set a standard of rigorous compliance with child protection legislation, including reporting of matters to the Commission for Children and Young People, the NSW Ombudsman and the police,” he said.

“In particular, the school undertakes Working with Children Checks on all persons working with students. 

“Additionally, it undertakes ad-hoc checks and monitors all persons who work with students.”

Mr Kennelly said the school’s staff code of conduct governed staff behaviour with students and ensured staff undertook regular professional development, with training also given in the area of child protection.

“The school is responsible for the welfare and protection of students in its care,” he said.

“Parents entrust their children to a school believing that they will be educated in a safe environment. 

“Abuse of a student by a teacher is abhorrent to everything the school stands for. 

“Indeed, abuse of children is intolerable wherever it occurs.”

tracey.prisk@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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