Victoria’s education regulator will investigate whether St Kevin’s College in Melbourne is compliant with child safety standards. Source: ABC News.
The ABC’s Four Corners program revealed on Monday that the headmaster of the Toorak school, Stephen Russell, provided a character reference for Peter Kehoe in 2015 after the former coach’s conviction for grooming a St Kevin’s pupil, Paris Street.
Kehoe, a St Kevin’s old boy, was a volunteer athletics coach and was not employed by the school at the time of the offending.
Education Minister James Merlino has confirmed the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority will open a review into the school’s compliance with Ministerial Order 870, which relates to child safety standards.
The order requires schools, among other things, to develop procedures for responding to allegations of child abuse including grooming.
Under the order, the school’s policies must include ways to “support or assist children who disclose child abuse, or are otherwise linked to suspected child abuse”.
A spokesman for St Kevin’s said the school would “actively participate in any review with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority”.
The college is overseen by Edmund Rice Education Australia. In a statement released after the Four Corners program aired, the organisation said it found Kehoe’s crimes “abhorrent” and acknowledged the distress suffered by Mr Street and his family.
“[On Monday], we heard from young people who shared their disturbing accounts of distress, pain and disempowerment,” the statement said.
“They made a plea for an education that empowers them to challenge what is dehumanising and wrong.
“As educators, we have heard their voices and are committed to furthering the empowerment of young people through the education we provide them.”
EREA’s statement also said the group was committed to supporting all victims and survivors of abuse and would address some of the matters raised by the story “as a priority”.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the school’s leadership had “some very real questions to answer”.
“It’s one thing to say that you’ve got a zero tolerance to child sexual abuse, to grooming, to any of this completely inappropriate behaviour. It’s another thing to actually demonstrate that,” he said.