July 26: School Governance Weekly Wrap
Abuse survivors alarmed over information sharing with institutions who abused them under National Redress Scheme
According to ABC News, survivors of child sexual abuse in Australia’s churches and institutions are alarmed over a clause in the National Redress Scheme that would force them to hand over sensitive personal details to the organisations involved. The Care Leavers Australasian Network’s (CLAN) Leonie Sheedy told the ABC she was devastated to find out that the hard-won process would involve survivors having to supply the churches and institutions where they were abused with their victim impact statements. Also according to ABC News, under the redress scheme, anyone who has spent five or more years in jail will go through a “special assessment process”. This requirement was not a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but was instead added to the scheme after negotiations among the federal, state, and territory governments. It replaced an initial proposal to exclude people in this category altogether. The special assessment process aims to ensure any payment to a survivor “does not bring the scheme into disrepute or undermine public confidence in the scheme”, the Federal Social Services Minister, Dan Tehan, said in a statement.
Child Protection Changes to Impact Charities and NFPs
Pro Bono News has reported that changes to child protection legislation in wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will impact the way charities and not-for-profits deal with children and prompt a review of practices, a leading out-of-home care provider believes. Paul McDonald, the CEO of leading OOHC provider Anglicare Victoria, told Pro Bono News that these changes would have a significant impact on how the social sector deals with children. He said while OOHC standards and requirements had become more onerous in the past five to seven years, but that these changes had been broadly welcomed.
The anti-cottonwool schools where kids stare down risk in favour of nature play
According to ABC News, far from wrapping children in cotton wool, a growing number of WA public schools are doing the opposite, giving their students the opportunity to race around on rollerblades, fly off ramps in crates and slide down trees. They are setting aside injury concerns to help children build resilience and squeeze in much-needed physical activity, in an age where screen time dominates and where one in four children is either overweight or obese. Schools that have adopted the so-called “anti-cotton wool” approach cite a long list of benefits to the approach, which results in happier and healthier students able to play more creatively and cooperatively. They say the children are more switched-on in class after exhausting all of their energy in the playground.
Children to be weighed and measured at school every two years in proposal to tackle obesity
ABC News has reported that children’s height and weight would be measured every two years unless parents opt out as part of an ambitious proposal to tackle Australia’s obesity epidemic. The proposal, made by the Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) at Deakin University to a Senate committee examining the issue, argues that the data could map childhood obesity around Australia to better target where the problem is at its worst. Primary schools would be the “logical place” to take measurements, he said, but trained clinicians instead of teachers would take the measurements and children would not see the results to avoid comparisons. Names would not be recorded to ensure that there are no breaches of privacy.
Charges laid as Riverland school stabbing victim is flown to Adelaide in a serious condition
According to SBS News, police in South Australia say a student has been stabbed in a school in the state’s Riverland. An 18-year-old student has been arrested over the incident. The 17-year-old injured student is thought to be in a serious condition and is receiving treatment at Berri Hospital. First aid was administered by staff and paramedics. According to ABC News, in a statement, the South Australian Education Department said it was working to ensure support for students and staff and it did not believe there was a “specific threat to the wider school community”.
School uniform policy change gives NSW girls option of shorts or trousers
ABC News has reported that girls attending public primary and secondary schools in NSW will be given the option of wearing shorts or trousers under new policy changes. Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes are set to announce changes to the schools uniform policy, forcing all government schools to let girls wear pants if they so choose. Currently, it is up to the discretion of each individual school as to whether the wearing of shorts or trousers is allowed. Schools will also be required to give parents at least three years’ notice before introducing changes to big ticket items, such as blazers, in an effort to protect against rising costs. It is the most significant overhaul of the uniform policy in more than a decade.
United Kingdom Child sex abuse inquiry fined £200,000 after email blunder
The Guardian has reported that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse ordered by the UK government in 2014 has been fined £200,000 after sending a bulk email that identified possible victims of child sexual abuse. Vulnerable people were put at risk owing to the error after the email was sent to 90 inquiry participants on 27 February last year, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said. Around 52 of the email addresses contained people’s full names, leaving at least one complainant “very distressed”, the ICO said. The inquiry is looking at the extent to which institutions failed to protect children from sexual abuse. The ICO said that the mistaken disclosure of the sensitive personal information is a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 since the breach preceded the Data Protection Act 2018.
Vatican suspends Chilean deacon accused of child abuse
Yahoo7 has reported that the Vatican has dismissed a Chilean deacon over sexual abuse accusations in central Chile, in the archdiocese of the city of Rancagua, amid a widespread abuse scandal gripping the country’s Catholic Church. Luis Rubio was arrested for improper conduct and sexual abuse of minors when he was in charge of a Las Cabras school in 2013. A year later, the archdiocese of Rancagua dismissed him from his duties while an investigation was underway, with the results sent to the Vatican, which has now expelled him. A total of 14 priests and other religious figures were suspended as the Church investigated the network, while Rancagua prosecutors also opened their own investigation.
A Law Tailored for Orthodox Jewish Schools Is Unconstitutional, Lawsuit Says
According to the NY Times, a lawsuit filed this week argues that New York is illegally looking the other way when it comes to ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, loosening restrictions that will ultimately leave students without a basic knowledge of English, maths and science. The lawsuit, filed by a group known as Young Advocates for Education slightly more than a month before the first day of the school year, is the latest action in a multiple year debate about how to regulate yeshivas, the private religious schools that focus primarily on studying Jewish texts. Under state law, non-public schools must provide an education that is “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools and include instruction in English, maths, United States history and science. But in April, Simcha Felder, a state senator whose Brooklyn district is heavily Orthodox, held up a state budget deal until the Legislature agreed to an exemption for yeshivas, freeing them from some of the state’s stricter regulations.