Keep telling

don't tell


The unspoken grief and brokenness of a father – a secondary victim of the destructive effects of sex abuse – ripples through a new Australian movie, Don’t Tell, a compelling true story about one young life deeply scarred by a teacher’s callous disregard for the sanctity of a child’s body.

Don’t Tell is based on the civil court case in Toowoomba in 2001, brought by Lyndal, a young woman who had been sexually abused by a teacher a decade earlier, seeking damages against the Anglican Church and the Toowoomba Preparatory School.

Lyndal wants her day in court. No one – not the school, not the Anglican Church, not the Archbishop (Peter Hollingworth, who later resigned as Governor General, in part because of his response to this case) – has listened. Her schoolgirl voice dismissed against the gravitas of an allegedly beloved teacher.

A young girl who showed so much promise that her parents elected to send her to a private boarding school ended up a runaway, drinking heavily and prostituting herself. An angry young woman, whose relationship with her parents was in tatters, decided enough was enough and her counsellor introduced her to a sympathetic lawyer.

Director Tori Garrett has created a visually beautiful film with a stellar Australian cast.  Garrett effectively uses drama, tension and intrigue to explore a topic that makes most of us squirm with discomfort.

The cast includes Sara West as Lyndal, Jack Thompson, Aden Young, Susie Porter, Martin Sacks (Lyndal’s father), Jacqueline McKenzie and Rachel Griffiths.

If you are still uncertain about why churches are being expected to introduce stringent child safe policies, then remember this is just one story among thousands. Each of those thousands of children has had their childhood stolen and the damage that has wrought on our society is without measure.

Eight people were in the cinema when Don’t Tell screened. This is a story we should all see – lest we forget.


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