Assault claims at school: parents slam 'inadequate' protection of primary pupils

A PARENT has spoken out against the Victorian Department of Education’s inadequate systems to protect children following an alleged sexual assault of a pupil at a primary school.

The Courier understands a pupil was sexually assaulted by two older pupils at the school on more than one occasion.

The Courier understands that when the issue was discovered, the school asked the victim and perpetrators to write statements and their parents were contacted.

According to a parent at the school, it was not until the Education Department was notified five days later – by parents – that the perpetrators were suspended.

Parents had contacted the school multiple times about bullying, manipulation and bribery concerns within the student population before the sexual assault allegations were revealed.

This followed a reported sexually-related incident at the school 12 months earlier.

The parent said they were concerned that teachers may not have reported any incidents to the Education Department until parents took the initiative to speak with department officials after the latest allegations.

The Courier received similar responses from other parents at the school about the breakdown in communications within the Victorian education system.

“The amount of times we went to the school, trying to address matters, we were always assured the school was doing something and children were being supervised,” the parent said.

“They didn’t put enough supervision in place.”

Despite the gravity of the allegations, neither the Department of Education nor the office of Minister for Education Martin Dixon would comment on questions put to them by The Courier on processes in place to protect the victim or other children at the school.

The Courier has chosen not to reveal the name of the school to protect the identity of the victim.

A government spokesperson supplied the following response to a series of questions from The Courier: “The Minister cannot comment on the specific detail of this case.”

The Department of Education would not confirm if it had launched an investigation into the allegations or when or if it was first notified of the issue. It also refused to respond to questions regarding actions it took.

The department also would not answer questions about whether support or counselling services were made available to the victim, alleged perpertrators, their families or teachers at any stage.

The Courier understands department officials have held discussions with members of the school community regarding the alleged incidents.

The Courier contacted Victoria Police who said they were unable to comment.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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