Report leaked

‘Wake-up call’

The findings of a report into child safety practices at Mount Scopus Memorial College were published in The Herald Sun.

Mount Scopus College.
Mount Scopus College.

The findings of a leaked report into child safety practices at Mount Scopus Memorial College “should be a wake-up call” to every Jewish school or organisation that deals with children, VoiCSA chair Philip Dalidakis told The AJN this week.

Mount Scopus commissioned the report by Child Wise following allegations of misconduct against a former staff member. The staff member has not been charged.

While it did not release the report, the school announced last September in a letter to parents and old collegians that Child Wise had provided 49 recommendations and it would implement “every recommendation”.

The Herald Sun published the findings of the report on Sunday. Citing the report, it said among other things there was a lack of appropriate response to serious complaints and allegations regarding child safety, and a culture of student bullying. It also cited inadequate safeguarding, governance and leadership and poor communication. It said staff were ill-equipped to meet obligations about safeguarding children, and the school put the reputation and wellbeing of the staff member over that of the students.

“The findings of the report demonstrated a total failure on the part of the school and its leadership to create a safe environment,” VoiCSA executive director Phillip Weinberg said.

“It could and should have been released without compromising the privacy of students and staff whose accounts contributed to the report.”

Dalidakis said, “Now that the document is out there, it’s incumbent upon everybody to learn from Mount Scopus’ failings.”

In an email to the school community on Sunday night, principal Rabbi James Kennard and president Amy Hershan said the school did not publish the full report “out of respect for the privacy of our brave students and teachers who told their stories on a confidential basis, and in line with advice from Child Wise”.

“We commissioned Child Wise … because child safety is the school’s highest priority and we understood change needed to happen. We were very open about that,” they said.

“Twenty-seven out of the 49 recommendations have been implemented in full and the remaining 22 are being currently actioned. All recommendations will be implemented in full by the end of term 4, 2023. The board is actively monitoring the implementation of these recommendations as a top priority.”

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