The Catholic school body, Edmund Rice Education Australia, apologised on Thursday morning to survivors and victims of child sex abuse who were pupils at their schools, including St Edmund's college.
The EREA has responsibility for over 50 schools in Australia, including ones previously governed by the Christian Brothers in Canberra.
But anti-child abuse campaigner Damian De Marco said the apologies were meaningless without change.
"We have had so many apologies and the Catholic church continues on with business as usual. Why don't the [EREA] stand up and speak out about fixing the problems in the Catholic church? Because they don't have the courage," Mr De Marco said.
Speaking to The Canberra Times on Thursday afternoon, EREA executive director Dr Wayne Tinsey said the body couldn't implement change inside the church.
"We have a strong emphasis on skilling our teachers to recognise and to give young people a voice when it comes to aspects of their safety," Mr Tinsey said.
"In ways that other schooling system have responded, we will continue to make this our highest priority. We're not a body that has a capacity to implement wholesale changes in our church, but we can lead by example."
Mr De Marco said the EREA and the church needed to address the problems that caused the abuse.
"The major problems are clear: celibacy and the psychosexual problems it creates. They can argue black and blue but it has created a lot of problems within the Catholic church leadership," Mr De Marco said.
"The discrimination against women in the leadership has seriously affected how the culture operates. They're trying to tinker around the edges."
Mr De Marco was also critical of the lack of transparency and accountability at the higher levels of the Catholic church, including at a local level.
"None of these things have changed in the Catholic church," Mr De Marco said.
Mr Tinsey delivered the apology at the National Arboretum to an audience which included abuse survivors and principals from its schools across Australia, saying it acknowledged this was part of a destructive and shameful reality in Australian history.
"We directly acknowledge the alarming statistics of serial sexual abuse, assault and molestation of young people in our schools by Christian Brothers, clergy and lay staff," Mr Tinsey said during the apology.
Mr Tinsey described the crimes as abhorrent, sinful, shameful and disgraceful and acknowledged the culture of secrecy and suppression that surrounded it.
"Victims have not had a real voice. Rightful acknowledgment has not been given to those crying for justice," Mr Tinsey said.
Mr Tinsey said the principals attending Thursday's apologies would return to their schools to issue apologies at a local level.
"They can keep giving us apology after apology if they want, but until they get off their butt and fix the problems which caused hundreds of thousands of children to be raped and none of the perpetrators to be dealt with properly then go away and come back when you fix it," Mr De Marco said.
Mr De Marco said there were 20,000 children in Canberra's Catholic school system.
"The organisation has to be redesigned if they want to tell us children are going to be safe." Mr De Marco said.
Mr Tinsey said the apology had the support of the Christian Brothers and the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese's Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse.