Seven local schools face sex abuse claims

August 2, 2023 8:52 am in by
St Josephs correctedSeven schools across Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula are among nearly 200 across the state being targeted by former students pursuing compensation claims for historic sexual abuse.

Almost 300 past students could be in line for massive payouts and premier Daniel Andrews is planning to make a formal apology in state parliament, according to a report in the Herald Sun.

Of the 180 schools in the sights of lawyers acting for the alleged victims, more than 70 are Catholic or Christian schools.

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Three, including Nelson Park in Geelong, are schools dedicated to children with special needs.

The seven local schools on the list include St Josephs College, which faces at least seven separate allegations.

Geelong Grammar and Kardinia International College each face four claims, while two cases involve Barwon Downs Primary School .

One former student has so far come forward with an allegation concerning Nelson Park.

Lawyers warned that victims planning to use the government’s redress scheme, which arose out of the child abuse royal commission, could be limiting the size of any potential payout.

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The scheme is capped at $150,00 per individual, whilst civil litigation could result in payouts in the millions.

Georgia Sneddon, an associate at Arnold, Thomas and Becker, said some claims date back to the 1950s but others are much more recent.

“There’s a big range and it’s really concerning,” Ms Sneddon told Geelong Broadcasters.

“The royal commission demonstrated how prolific abuse is within religious institutions, but what’s surprising with these numbers just with our firm alone is that it’s not just limited to religious (schools). It’s widespread within the public system as well.

“Geelong is a really concerning area. It seems there was a real culture of abuse going on in some of those schools there. We take each case as it comes but St Josephs College and some of those other schools are really concerning.”

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Ms Seddon said people who believe they have a case should speak to an experienced abuse lawyer.

“They should be careful of the redress scheme because once you accept an offer (through the scheme) you have no further entitlements whatsoever.

Geelong region schools facing allegations of historic sexual abuse:

School Current cases
St Josephs College Geelong 7
Kardinia International College 4
Geelong Grammar 4
Barwon Downs Primary 2
Geelong College 1
Drysdale Primary 1
Nelson Park 1

Source: Arnold Thomas and Becker

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Image: St Josephs College is one of seven Geelong schools facing legal action over historical sexual assault allegations