Not on my Watch

Not on my watch!
Duty of care and the bully

 

You hate bullying and don’t want it to ever happen to the young people in your Residence, but you hear about stories coming out years later, of young people suffering damage and schools being sued for breach of duty of care.

Could it happen on your watch? Could bullying be happening at your boarding residence? Could the future find you and your Residence before the court answering charges by hurt students for a breach of your duty of care?

Recent cases

2011: Jazmine Oyston was awarded $116,00 damages after years of bullying by the “popular group” at a NSW private school. The court found that the school had breached their duty of care and the breach had caused psychiatric damage. The school appealed, claiming she was given counselling, but neither she nor her parents mentioned bullying until years later, but lost the appeal.

2009: the NSW Supreme Court awarded student David Gregory almost $470,000 damages because his NSW Agricultural school breached their duty of care in failing to prevent bullying during his six years.Gregory claimed his high school teachers turned a blind eye while he was violently bullied and harrassed by classmates. An Education Department spokesman said the events took place more than a decade ago and procedures at the school had changed significantly in that time.

2003: Melbournes Lisa Eskinazi was awarded more than $73,000 after being repeatedly bullied in Year 8. The Judge found that the year coordinator and the 2 student welfare coordinator had both failed in their duty of care in multiple ways, including failing to appropriately discipline the girls, contact their parents or organise a meeting with the principal.

Over the past decade, any tolerance of bullying as part and parcel of school yearshas been totally reversed, as schools in Australia recognise the damage that can occur and work to address bullying in schools and boarding residences. Policies and programs are now in place in boarding residences to prevent bullying. Does that mean that bullying no longer occurs? Is bullying a thing of the past? Sadly no, but what more can we do?

 

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