Church says sorry for abuse


05 Apr, 2007 01:57 PM

A `HEALING service’ held for victims of sexual assault at the hands of former Gippsland Grammar teacher Phillip Douglas Hazeldine has been praised for being progressive.

The Morwell mother of one of Hazeldine’s victims congratulated the Sale school and Anglican diocese of Gippsland for holding the service at St Paul’s Cathedral in Sale on 24 March.

Local member of the support group Voice of the Faithful, Newborough man Tony Paul, also applauded the church for acknowledging the abuse.

Hazeldine was jailed in 1998 for offences committed against students at the junior St Anne’s campus in the late 1970s and 1980s. He pleaded guilty to further offences in 2002 after more victims came forward.

Right Reverend John McIntyre, Anglican Bishop of Gippsland, said the service for victims and their families was acknowledgment by the school and the diocese that the abuse had occurred.

“It’s fairly public knowledge that a teacher at Gippsland Grammar in the 1980s was sexually abusing a number of students. There was a lot of fall out from that and it wasn’t handled particularly well by the school in the 1980s,” Bishop McIntyre said this week.

“In more recent times we’ve had a bit to do with some of the students affected as they’ve got older. Some have not had good experiences in life and the families have been fairly shattered by it. It has had a pretty disastrous impact on many.”

Bishop McIntyre said holding the service was “essential” to help victims and their families.

“It (the service) was a way of reaching out to people and as part of hopefully their ongoing recovery.

“Even though it’s late in the piece we thought better late than never. For some people it’s too little too late and we acknowledge that, but for some it will assist in the ongoing recovery.

“It has taken a long time but it’s a matter of acknowledging that in the past it hasn’t been well handled.”

Bishop McIntyre said he believed it was appropriate he make an acknowledgment of the abuse and apologise to the victims as the Bishop of the day was on the school’s board in the 1980s.

He said current school principal Mike Clapper had also made an acknowledgment and apology.

In addition to the healing service, the school and diocese sent a letter to all students who attended the school during the period Hazeldine taught to acknowledge what happened and find out if any other students had been affected.

“I think there’s a growing awareness in the churches of what needs to be done to help people recover,” Bishop McIntyre said.

“I think there has been a history (within churches) on one hand of not being sure what to do and on the other, denial.

“I think all churches should be encouraged to go down this path if necessary.”

Mr Paul, who has been involved with Voice of the Faithful for some years and last year called for an independent national study to determine the true extent of sexual assault in the Catholic Church, congratulated Bishop McIntyre and the school.

“It’s a breath of fresh air that there are people who really mean what they’re saying and are actually demonstrating that someone in the church, or a portion of the church structure, is really sorry and repentant for what happened,” Mr Paul said.

“By doing so (acknowledging abuse) they’re offering some hope for those searching for spiritual help and guidance.

“The Anglican Church is miles ahead of the Catholic Church in its handling of the problem. If only the Catholic Church would take a leaf out of the Anglican book.”

Sexual assault victim urges others to stand up

October 01 2002
By Steve Butcher

The victim of a paedophile urged others to “face their fears” as his tormentor was jailed yesterday by a Melbourne magistrate 25 years after the crimes began.

Paul Walton was nine when his teacher, Phillip Douglas Hazeldine, began to assault him in 1977 at St Anne’s Gippsland Grammar School in Sale.

Mr Walton had remained silent about the events until a chance sighting of Hazeldine in a central Victorian town in January this year brought the nightmares back. He had counselling and from that built up the courage to go to the police who interviewed and charged Hazeldine last May.

Hazeldine had been jailed in 1998 for two years, with a minimum of 12 months, for similar offences against other students at the school.

Because of Mr Walton’s actions, three other former school friends confirmed later that they had also been assaulted by Hazeldine.

Now 33, Mr Walton said outside Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday that victims should seek help from the Centre Against Sexual Assault, police, family and friends.

“I’m happy with the outcome and felt a huge sense of relief that he is going to jail,” he said.

“I want people to stand up and face their fears, providing they get help and support.”A former psychologist, Hazeldine, 55, of Buninyong, near Ballarat, pleaded guilty to 16 charges of indecent assault and one count of attempted indecent assault.

Magistrate Duncan Reynolds jailed him for 18 months and ordered that he serve six months. The remainder of the sentence was suspended for two years.

Hazeldine was released on bail pending an appeal.


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