Elite Boys Schools: A Culture That Needs Changing


My abuser was a student at Brisbane’s leading Anglican Boys School, Church of England Grammar. It is the feeder school for the Cathedral Choir. Little boys with a tuneful voice can apply for a Choir Scholarship which will pay their school fees in return for God knows what abuse.

Some time after I made complaints to the Anglican Diocese, the University of Queensland, and the Police, the school friend I had told about the ‘affair’ with the organ teacher (we were 17) called me. She told me that her father-in-law, on his deathbed, had disclosed the witnessing of my own abuser’s abuse at the hands of the Choirmaster. This had, ironically enough given our later trauma, occurred at a camp on Stradbroke Island. My abuser and my girlfriend’s father-in-law had been choirboys; it must have been in the 1930s.

My abuser appeared to grow into an adult, but underneath he was still the naughty schoolboy who liked making toilet jokes. Aged 39, he still giggled about a female teacher at ‘Churchie’ who didn’t know the other meaning of the word “tool”. During the 1950s he is alleged to have abused a 12 year old girl; like me she was a pupil at Somerville House.

The 12 year old victim, to the mystification of her family, pleaded to be removed from Somerville and sent to a boarding school. My sister, who had been one of her childhood playmates, commented that when they finally caught up upon enrolling at University of Queensland, Virginia seemed to have lost her spirit. She never told her husband or either of her children what had happened to her until she lay dying in 1996. Her son, a priest in the Cathedral where the abuser held high office, decided to keep the disclosure secret out of respect for his father. However in 2002, when the former Archbishop Hollingworth was the subject of an Inquiry (Callaghan/Briggs), and some of what the Archbishop had said to me following my complaint was reported in the Courier Mail, the young priest recognized his late mother’s abuser. Using the mildest possible language, and with the utmost respect, he phoned the Archbishop’s secretary one day. He said he did not wish to make a complaint, but instead wanted to add his voice to my complaint.

As a result, the young man was targeted by Bishops of the Anglican Church. These have included Hollingworth, Aspinall, and Appelby. His wife’s family were friends with the abuser’s family, and his marriage ended. His vocation as a priest ended. His health deteriorated and he could only find solace in alcohol, which led to a nearly fatal heart attack in 2015. It was only then that Virginia’s other child contacted me. Until that time she had not known of her mother’s childhood abuse by an entitled predator from the ranks of the elite alumni of Churchie.

I’ll continue this story as soon as possible. It’s worth mentioning that Old Boys from Churchie are numbered among those who run the State of Queensland. Alone among elite Anglican Church schools, Churchie appears to have escaped the scrutiny of the Royal Commission. My abuser’s good friend, Paul de Jersey, is Governor of Queensland. Hollingworth is a close friend of his.



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