This week Australians all took a deep breath in unison and read the news no one was prepared to see, a decision that is more fitting for a Hollywood drama then for real life, a decision that has left survivors reeling and parents holding their children a bit tighter than usual.

The seven judges of the high court have handed down what might be one of the most controversial decisions Australia has ever witnessed. Their decision, convicted and jailed child molester George Pell is to be released and all convictions dismissed, finishing off a series of events that started fifty years ago.

It is every parent’s worst nightmare, a predator walking the streets ready to prey on your child, made even worse by the fact that the alleged perpetrator is a Cardinal, a high-ranking priest in the Catholic Church, elected by the Pope himself.

The Cardinal in question is the soon to be infamous Cardinal George Pell, aged 78, who was accused of molesting two choir boys in 1996 whilst he was appointed as Archbishop of Melbourne.

The crime allegedly took place as Pell found the boys drinking wine in the church, innocently playing around after mass. The account of the Cardinal looming over them before he attacked the boys and forced them to perform oral sex on him is nothing short of an act of evil and that of nightmares.
The rapes and molestation allegedly occurred in the St Patrick’s Cathedral, located in East Melbourne, and is one accusation amongst many made against Pell, numerous of which stem from his time as a younger priest in the small Victorian town of Ballarat in the 1970s.
Of the two choir boys involved in the accusations from 1996, only one survives, one dying of a heroin overdose in 2014 and refusing the abuse allegations up until his death. In the same year the Victorian Government created a task force dedicated to investigating the handling of child abuse cases by ‘Religious And Other Non-Government Organisations’.

In 2015 the surviving choir boy broke his silence, letting go of the secret he had carried for nearly two decades. One can only imagine the weight this man had carried into adulthood, scared of judgement and sharing his secret with the world, all to not be believed.

Three years later in December of 2018 Pell, who had pled not guilty, was found to be guilty of the accusations against him in the Melbourne case of the choir boys, charged with five sex abuse convictions in total.

Since then the Cardinal’s lawyers have faced the high court, arguing that the court failed to adequately take evidence supporting Pell’s innocence into consideration.

On April 7th 2020, after spending just a mere 400 days in prison, Pell has been set free, just in time to spend Easter in the free world.

Amongst the turmoil the world is facing at the moment, yesterday’s news from the high court has left Australia in shock, with the question on everybody lips the same; how?

If a high-profile case can have the ending that Pell’s has, then what chance do the everyday equivalents have. The George Pell’s who hide in our local shadows, in our schools, our churches, our family trees.

The #Metoo movement has given survivors of sexual assault worldwide a group consciousness, hope that if we just stand up we must be believed, that the reason why these monsters have been allowed to walk our streets is a mistake, that if their crimes had been reported they would be locked away.The man who killed Sunshine coast boy Daniel Morcombe in 2003, Brett Peter Cowan, had viciously assaulted seven year old boy Timothy Nicholls in 1987. Cowan served a little over half of his sentence of two years for the brutal rape of Timothy, before being released and eventually finding his way to that bus stop next to Daniel in 2003.

Daniel’s parents must stare at their ceiling at night wondering what if, what if he had served his full sentence, what if he had been sentenced to life, what if, what if, what if.

The pain of all survivors, of the choir boy, Timothy Nicholls, of all people who have been affected by child abuse, who have been brave enough to speak up, for their abuser to be able to walk free is a pain that is immeasurable, leaving a community once hopeful for change and justice, vulnerable and disappointed.

If we didn’t believe the choir boy, then who has a chance?






The #MeToo movement has exploded into the global conversation in recent years, supporting victims of sexual harassment and empowering them to speak up. As parents, there is now an obligation to educate our kids and empower them to be strong, respectful and educated young boys and girls.

The #MeToo movement started in 2017, when accusations against Hollywood mogul producer Harvey Weinstein created a ripple effect within the entertainment industry regarding sexual harassment and assault. Since then, the movement has trickled down into all layers of society. In the age of #MeToo, how do we help our children to navigate this social landscape and raise them to fearlessly tackle the world in the hope of a fairer future?

The movement has sent shockwaves through the workplace, encouraging women to speak up in the wake of sexual harassment and has also ignited movements such as #TimesUp. The initiative lays its intent bare in the first sentence on its website, which reads, “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace.”

“The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace.”

Since the explosion of both #MeToo and #TimesUp into the public conversation, women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted shared their stories all over the world. The movements, which are driven by social media, have changed the conversation by allowing women who once felt like victims to feel empowered to stand up for themselves.

#MeToo has changed the conversation by allowing women who once felt like victims to feel empowered to stand up for themselves.

#MeToo isn’t only about women, and it isn’t only about adults. In the midst of this changing cultural landscape, there comes no better time to teach our children about empathy, relationships, consent and communication. The focus should not only be on raising strong, empowered girls; but also on raising respectful, caring young boys.

The focus should not only be on raising strong, empowered girls; but also on raising respectful, caring young boys.

Tips for raising empowered boys and girls: 

  1. Talk to your children about consent.

Teach your girls to set boundaries and teach your boys to respect them. Have open conversations that foster values of empathy, communication and respect. As a child, consent begins with ‘no means no’. It means teaching them to set boundaries, but also to respect boundaries set by others. It is not only the job for the girl to make a boy or man respect her. It’s these lessons that also need to be taught early to boys.

  1. Encourage both your sons and daughters to be upstanding for gender justice.

The time of #MeToo has been remarkable in the march towards gender equality. A recent study found that engaging with traditional ‘girl’ toys and entertainment (most notably Disney Princesses) can lead to reinforced gender stereotypes and increased vulnerability. Have open conversations with your children about these gender roles and encourage them to engage in all sorts of activities. Girls who play sports, wrestle and build Lego, as well as play with dolls, have a diversified notion of what ‘girls’ do and are therefore more likely to perceive themselves as strong, confident and assertive.

On the other hand, boys are taught to be tough, never cry and always be strong. As parents, we should strive not to reinforce stereotypes that indicate boys are ‘weak’ if they cry or feel emotions. Teach boys, as well as girls, that humans experience millions of emotions and its okay to feel the full range of them.

  1. Educate yourself

It is most important that our children have strong role models to look up to and guide the way in which they perceive themselves, gender stereotypes and social cues.

Of course, these simple tips won’t solve the problem or completely eradicate any notion of sexual harassment in the world that our children will grow up in – but it’s a start. If the next generation of children are instilled with these lessons from the beginning, then perhaps attitudes will change and the problem will be lessened in the future.