An elite Melbourne school will be investigated by the Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority over its management of child abuse risks.

Published in SBS News

Victoria’s education regulator will investigate whether St Kevin’s College in Toorak breached state standards for managing risks around child abuse.

Education Minister James Merlino confirmed the Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority (VRQA) had advised St Kevin’s College and the school’s owner, Edmund Rice Education Australia, of its decision to review the school’s management of child abuse risks.

The decision was made following reports a long-time volunteer athletics coach was convicted of grooming a then 15-year-old student at the elite all-boys school in 2015.

The school’s principal Stephen Russell and head of sport Luke Travers have both been subject to intense public scrutiny for providing Peter Kehoe with references during his trial.

The VRQA’s announcement followed an ABC Four Corner’s investigation into the matter and the culture at St Kevin’s College which aired on Monday night.

Mr Merlino said he understood why parents would be concerned with the oversight and handling of the matter.

“I can confirm the VRQA have advised St Kevin’s College’s board of management, Edmund Rice Education Australia in Victoria, and the Catholic Education of Commission of Victoria that it will open a specific review into the school’s compliance with Ministerial Order 870 – Child Safe Standards – Managing the Risk of Child Abuse in Schools, as is entirely appropriate,” he said.

“These reports are very concerning and if I was a parent of a student at the school, I would be demanding answers.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of children. That’s why we have introduced Child Safe Standards and mandatory reporting.”

A spokesman for the school confirmed to SBS News the institution would cooperate with the investigation.

“St Kevin’s will actively participate in any review with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority.”

News Corp reports students at the school refused to stand for St Kevin’s College principal on Tuesday, with others opting not to participate in the singing of the school song.

While Kehoe was convicted in 2015 of one count of grooming a child under the age of 16, St Kevin’s has confirmed two more teachers are being investigated over abuse allegations.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

Anyone seeking information or support relating to sexual abuse can contact Bravehearts on 1800 272 831 or Blue Knot on 1300 657 380.

By Adam Marsters
Published in SBS News
18 February 2020