A convicted cocaine smuggler who spent years in a Spanish prison has been given the green light to teach in Victorian schools.
The decision was made by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which overturned a ruling by the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) that deemed the woman, Kim Salter, unsuitable to teach due to her conviction.
In September 2007, Salter was given a nine-year prison sentence after Spanish customs officials discovered five kilograms of cocaine in her suitcase.
reported that senior VCAT member, Robert Davis, wrote that Salter was introduced to international drug couriers while travelling in Uganda the same year she was caught.
“The applicant was in Africa. She was seeking adventure. There was a degree of romantic involvement. She was naive and trusting,” Davis wrote, adding that she had “spent some months partying” before her money dried up and she needed to find a way to support herself.
After serving four years of her sentence, Salter returned to Australia where she completed a diploma of education at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
(RMIT) and received a favourable reference from her lecturer.
However, her application to teach in Victoria was rejected by the educational authority, saying it was not in the public interest for someone with her convictions to work in schools.
Following this, she appealed to VCAT, which found the offence was not serious enough to stop her from working as a teacher.
In the ruling handed down this week, VCAT said Salter would be a “great asset” to rural Victorian schools.
The Mind Recovery College website currently lists Salter as working as a “learning and development consultant” to help people with mental impairment.
The Victorian Institute of Teaching has been contacted for comment.