Yet another elite boys’ school is in the spotlight following allegations of child sex abuse.
A former student at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, made the allegations to the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus, which then contacted the school’s principal, Dr Paul Hine.
In a letter sent to the school’s old boys on Monday, Hine wrote that he would be informing them about the former student’s allegations, which Hine was told occurred over 30 years ago.
"I am communicating with all the boys today, in an age-appropriate manner, so that they do not hear about this matter in a piecemeal way or in a situation where they have no reassurances," Hine wrote, adding that the police had been informed.
The development at St Ignatius’ College is the latest in a string of damning allegations of sex abuse at other schools – both single-gender and co-educational - around the country.
Other cases include Ivanhoe Grammar in VIC, Calvin Christian School in TAS, St Ignatius’ College in SA, St Mary’s Agricultural School in WA and St Carthage’s Primary School in QLD.
While the response by St Ignatius’ College was swift, other schools, including Knox Grammar in Sydney, have been accused of covering-up child abuse by choosing not to report such allegations. In other instances, some schools have lacked a cohesive policy for dealing with child abuse.
On its website, child safety advocates, Bravehearts, cited research which revealed that out of 66 private schools, only six had a specific policy in place for dealing with suspected child sexual abuse.
A University of Technology paper into legislative requirements for mandatory reporting on child abuse showed that while most States and Territories have legislation compelling teachers to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect, such legislation can differ significantly.
It is important to know the extent to which the current reporting laws and policies are effective in practice, and the reasons for their success or failure, the paper stated.
VIC Education Minister, James Merlino, recently announced that all schools risk having their registration suspended or cancelled unless they have policies which meet minimum child safety standards.