Stephen Roche has fought a lot of legal battles in his time. As the co-founder of one of Australia’s largest and most successful plaintiff litigation firms, he’s been up against everyone from McDonalds to goverments and Churches . But it was Lyndal’s case which occurred in his own home town of Toowoomba, that really had an impact on him. And it would be Lyndal’s case that would change him forever.
Don’t Tell gives a voice to everyone who has ever suffered guilt and shame as a result of being abused or from failing to prevent their child being abused. Stephen’s message to those people is that you have nothing to be ashamed of. It is the institutions that need to answer for their actions. It is the institutions and the people that run them, who need to be sorry, to feel remorse, to find the courage to make a change.
When Stephen first met Lyndal back in 2000, she had lost all hope. Many have lost hope in their elders, in their schools, their churches, their legal systems. Don’t Tell is a reminder that justice can and sometimes does prevail. To those who have lost the will to fight, or do not know where to turn, Stephen hopes that Don’t Tell will show them that where there is a will, there is a way. And sometimes standing up and using your voice and being heard – is the only way.
Our legal system can be a powerful vehicle for all of us seeking justice. And it is precious. There is much criticism of our justice system, our judges and the legal profession (much of it justified) but there are too few defending it. Lyndal used the legal system to expose an institution guilty of reckless behaviour. In this way, the law can be a catalyst for positive social change.
Since writing the book and making the movie, many more survivors of abuse have come forward and told their story. New systems and protocols exist in our public and private schools to reduce the risk of harm to our children. There has been a Royal Commission. The Government has taken action to promote child abuse awareness and as a community we have banded together to shine a light on other institutions who need to be held accountable in order to do better. Yet our rights as individuals are slowly being eroded by our legislators, our politicians and bureaucrats – heavily influenced by the lobbying power of the insurance industry.
Change can and will happen. Through the making of the movie Don’t Tell, Stephen and Lyndal hope to inspire that change.
Told through the eyes of a lawyer, Stephen Roche, this is a compelling account of the most important sexual abuse civil trial in Australian history.
It begins when a young girl’s life is torn apart while attending a prestigious Anglican Preparatory School, suffering repeated sexual abuse at the hands of her Boarding Master. After a complaint by a fellow classmate the man is charged. On the day he is to appear in court, he commits suicide.
For the next 11 years the School and Church deny the abuse ever occurred and it seems as if Lyndal’s life will remain in ruins – her cries for help forever falling on deaf ears. It is not until she is twenty-one that her story is finally told in court, exposing the dark face of the Church and a shocking history of institutionalised denial and neglect.
Lyndal’s story evokes a feeling of anger, outrage and the landmark legal decision brings contempt for the powers that be and the highest office in the country to its knees and forever changes Australian attitudes towards abuse.