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Solid ground in inaction on child abuse for building name change at Churchie

By Amanda Gearing - posted Friday, 21 April 2017

It is only the firm leadership of Archbishop Phillip Aspinall that appears to be preventing the clock turning backwards on child abuse reform in Brisbane's Anglican Diocese.

Powerful lawyers and establishment figures are mobilising to attack the Archbishop over his decision to begin to make amends for past harm to victims of abuse by failures in leadership.

A group of influential old boys of Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane is desperately trying to have a former headmaster's name reinstated on the school's library before the building is officially opened this evening (Friday 21 April).


The library is a new incarnation of the original school library that was named in honour of Harry Roberts, the headmaster for 22 years from 1947-1969.

Roberts laid a foundation for the future of the school at a critical time in its history. Most of what he laid was secure.

However at least three pedophiles on the staff offended against multiple boys during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s during his tenure.

The offenders include teacher and boarding master Frederick Roy Hoskins (1947 - early 1980s); rowing coach Dr Fred Whitehouse (1948 - 49); and teacher Hamilton Leslie (1960 - 1963).

A fourth volunteer and employee, Harry Wippell, faced multiple charges against multiple students but died before a second trial.

Given the widespread abuse, Roberts failed in his duty to properly supervise his staff, failed to investigate suspicions, failed to believe reports of offending - or believed the reports but disregarded them.


In some cases, offenders made admissions and Roberts sacked the offender - but none was reported to police.

Children were forsaken in order to preserve the school's elite brand and its reputation as a safe environment for boys living away from home.

It is for these failures, which resulted in offenders continuing to offend - and once dismissed, walking free for decades whilst victim children carried burdens of false shame and guilt all their lives - that have resulted, in recent years, in the Diocese of Brisbane beginning to make amends.

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Author declaration: Amanda Gearing has a relative who is a survivor of child sexual abuse.

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About the Author

Dr Amanda Gearing graduated with a Masters' Degree from QUT in 2012 and a PhD in Global investigative journalism in 2016. Amanda was The Courier-Mail's reporter in Toowoomba for ten years until 2007 and received several awards for her work including Best news Report (All Media) in 2002. She has written in Australia and the UK for national and state newspapers and has produced documentaries for ABC Radio National. In 2012 she won a Walkley Award for Best radio documentary for The day that changed Grantham. She also won a Clarion Award for her radio documentary A living sacrifice in 2013. Her non-fiction book The Torrent was published in 2012 and an updated edition will be published in February 2017.

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