A former teacher alleged to have been at the centre of a spree of sexual and physical abuse of children at several Tweed primary schools over almost 20 years has been stood down as an employee by the Queensland education department.
It’s been revealed the man had been working in a non-specified casual job in the Queensland department but was removed recently after the department was alerted to the NSW allegations.
APN Media reported this week that the man was alleged to have abused students at Murwillumbah East Public School’s Special Education Unit, Tweed Heads South Public School and Centaur Primary School in a spree that started in the late 1980s.
The media organisation earlier this week checked with the Queensland department to see if the former teacher had crossed the border to work in that state’s school system following the recent airing of claims.
The department’s assistant director-general of human resources, Craig Allen, told APN that ‘immediate action’ was taken to stand down ‘a casual departmental employee upon learning of these serious allegations’.
In a statement, Mr Allen said ‘this casual employee is not a teacher and does not have any classroom contact with children’.
‘The allegations have been referred to the department’s Ethical Standards Unit for immediate investigation,’ he said, adding that no other details were available while the matter is under investigation, ‘and for privacy reasons’.
A NSW education department spokesman told APN the teacher had not worked in its system since 2004 ‘and is flagged as a person not to be employed in any capacity by the department’.
Banora Point whistleblower Fiona Barnett, who conducted a nine-year investigation into the accused teacher’s activities, told the media outlet that she was horrified and disgusted to learn he had been employed in another state education system.
Ms Barnett said it highlighted the cross-border loopholes that existed.
She called for a national system to be set up where education staff banned in one state were blacklisted across the country.
Ms Barnett told ABC North Coast radio this morning that she presented the case some time ago to a detective from the child protection and crimes squad who refused to investigate it, telling her that only a royal commission had the power to interview reluctant witnesses.
Last week Ms Barnett was questioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Brisbane after submitting a 27-page report outlining accounts of the abuse.
A federal education department spokesman told APN they do not keep records or lists of banned teachers or state education staff.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Tweed MP Geoff Provest says that NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli’s office was being kept abreast of developments in the claims.