Dilworth abuse: Independent inquiry begins

Laura James
Source: 1News

An independent inquiry into abuse of students at Auckland's Dilworth School begins on Friday.

Their stories are disturbing, compelling and important.

The Dilworth Trust Board says it will co-operate fully with the inquiry and is encouraging former staff and board members, old boys and the wider Dilworth community to take part.

Former Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright has been appointed as the head of the inquiry, with high-profile human rights lawyer Frances Joychild QC as the co-inquirer.

A website's set to be launched for former students to register their interest in participating.

Chairman of the Dilworth Trust Board, Aaron Snodgrass, said the inquiry is essential to understanding the abuse that occurred at Dilworth, how it occurred and the school’s response at the time.

He said Dilworth is willing and prepared to recognise its responsibility for what happened to abuse victims.

READ MORE: Dame Silvia Cartwright to lead Dilworth abuse inquiry

The school is expected to share details of its redress programme soon too.

It had previously said it would announce three independent panellists and the final terms of reference for the process by the end of the month, but is yet to do so.

Snodgrass said: “This programme is unprecedented in New Zealand."

"We need a little more time to finalise some details, so it is ready for old boys to engage with it.

READ MORE: How did NZ's richest school become centre of sexual abuse cases?

Abuse survivor Neil Harding last week told TVNZ's Sunday programme the current Dilworth Trust Board is trying to protect its money and reputation, and that it isn't meaningfully consulting victims as part of the redress programme.

The 56-year-old said the school has set a maximum redress amount of $200,000 for victims, and not every victim will be entitled to that.

“While redress cannot undo the harm done to old boy survivors, the board remains committed to establishing an independent redress programme that will help them to move forward with their lives,” said Snodgrass.