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Child sex victim-survivors ‘woefully failed’ by Department — EducationHQ | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


Children in Victorian public schools were left to fall prey to sexual predator teachers for decades because the department failed to act on allegations and prioritised reputation over safety.

The board of inquiry into the historical child sexual abuse at Beaumaris Primary School and certain other government schools tabled its final report on Wednesday.

The investigation was set up in June by then-premier Daniel Andrews to establish the extent of past sexual abuse at Beaumaris from the 1960s to the 1990s.

It eventually expanded to cover 23 other schools.

“When the Victorian Government established the Board of Inquiry … we wanted to give Victorians who were profoundly let down by the school system in decades past the opportunity to have their voices and experiences heard,” Premier Jacinta Allan said in a statement.

“More than 120 victim-survivors, secondary victims, affected community members and stakeholders came forward, placed their trust in the process and shared their experiences.

“Carrying these stories is a heavy burden, and while I know it won’t undo the pain, I hope that in sharing their experience, that it has given victim-survivors at Beaumaris Primary and certain other government schools the recognition and support they deserve.”

In its report, the board slams the Department of Education, finding it “woefully failed to protect children from the risk” of sexual abuse because it did not have policies in place to deal with allegations or convictions.

“The Department failed in both its action and inaction,” the board said.

“There was a culture of covering up child sexual abuse to prioritise the reputation of the education system, including schools and teachers.”

The Department was told of the conviction and sentencing of teacher David MacGregor, who was also found guilty of misconduct in an internal investigation in the 1980s.

However, he was allowed to remain as an employee, transferred into an administrative role and was only banned from teaching for three years.

The inquiry found the Department still had not done a review of allegations into sexual abuse at Beaumaris or within the broader system.

It makes nine recommendations for reform, including a statewide public apology to be made by the State Government in parliament, public memorials and better resources to help victim-survivors.

Another calls for the Government to establish a statewide truth-telling and accountability process for victim-survivors of historical child sexual abuse in all Victorian government schools.

Liberal MP Brad Rowswell, who represents the southeast Melbourne electorate of Sandringham in which the school is based, urged the Government to follow through on that suggestion.

“We know that child sexual abuse is not isolated to one location, and we know that there are victim-survivors across the state who deserve to have their voices heard,” he said.

 “To give some victim-survivors the opportunity for their voices to be heard and stories told, while not extending that opportunity to everyone, is just not right.”

Premier Jacinta Allan and Education Minister Ben Carroll met with some victims in parliament as the report was tabled.

“I want to thank them for their courage and strength in not just participating in this inquiry, but driving this inquiry,” Allan said

She said the Government would consider the report and respond in due course.

“We will continue to engage with victim-survivors who came forward to the Board of Inquiry when considering implementation of the Government’s response, as well as the development of a formal apology to victim-survivors of abuse at Beaumaris Primary School and across Victorian government schools later this year.”

AAP





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