One of Australia’s most prestigious Catholic boys’ schools is at the center of a new controversy after teachers allege they were sexually harassed and discriminated against for being women.
Female staff at St Kevin’s College, in the exclusive suburb of Toorak in Melbourne, have leveled dozens of allegations of harassment by male colleagues and students, prompting improvements in workplace safety.
On Wednesday, a Dropbox file containing 60 complaints from female staff was made public, revealing allegations ranging from gender-based aggression to serious, threatening behavior.
The College for Boys in Years 5-12 has been plagued in recent years with claims of misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, prompting an internal review.
The scathing review, handed down in 2021, found that the $20,995-a-year school had a “sexist” and “misogynistic” culture.
In a statement to the Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday, St Kevin’s principal, Deborah Barker, said the school had undergone “significant cultural change” but acknowledged that more needed to be done.
Deborah Baker, principal of St Kevin’s College, acknowledged that more needs to be done to address the school’s culture
Ms. Barker confirmed that she had seen the Dropbox file of alleged complaints “briefly” and that “sexism and misogyny” at the school “were clearly still an issue.”
Ms Barker declined to comment on specific allegations when Daily Mail Australia reached out to them, but acknowledged that the college culture still needed more change.
“The fundamental question is whether St. Kevin provides its teachers with a safe workspace. I’m sure it is, but there’s always room for improvement,” said Mrs. Barker.
“Since my appointment two years ago, we have embarked on a complete overhaul of practices and standards. It’s ironic that some people say we’re going too fast, while others say we’re going too slow.”
‘I would like to record that we are moving quickly with this culture shift. There is still more to do and the focus of the St. Kevin leadership team is to get it right.”
Female staff at St Kevin’s College (pictured) have made dozens of allegations of sexual harassment at Melbourne’s elite school
An unnamed teacher claimed the file contained several allegations about “a former (staff member) who was at times incredibly ‘handy’ to the point of assault.”
“The chorus of most is that when things were raised, nothing was done, there’s almost a layoff that there’s no point raising things because nothing would happen,” they said. The age.
Another source claimed the dossier was intended to make the school fully aware of the magnitude of the harassment problem, as female staff believed promises to change staff culture were not being kept.
It has also been revealed that a male teacher was the subject of a confidential internal investigation last year over allegations he had harassed three female employees. The teacher no longer works for the school.
St Kevin’s College has been at the center of controversy over its culture in recent years. Pictured are 10th grade students filmed in 2019 singing a sexist chant on a tram
Two new roles have been created to change the school’s culture, including a deputy principal who focuses on community engagement and another senior appointment on staff well-being.
“Occasionally, teachers and students leave St Kevin’s as a direct result of inappropriate behaviour. Every case will be reviewed and action will be taken where necessary,” said Ms Barker.
“The only thing I’ve learned from this recent external survey is that our teacher cohort expects the pace of cultural change, in measurable and tangible ways, to continue at an accelerated pace. I am determined to play my part to make this happen.”
It is not the first time that St Kevin’s College has been the center of attention.
Earlier this year, teachers claimed they didn’t feel safe after students were reportedly caught rating the genitals of female staff on a sickening list.
A teacher claimed that boys aged seven and eight ranked “staff members” p*****s and rated the sexual attractiveness of each other’s sisters.
That same month, a cultural survey of school leaders found that 13 percent of staff said they didn’t feel safe at work.
Deborah Barker took over as Head of St Kevin’s College in 2020 after Stephen Russell’s resignation
In 2019, students at 10-year-old St Kevin’s College were filmed singing a sexist chant on a tram, which went viral online, prompting former students to speak out about the school’s “misogynistic” culture.
The video was shared by a frightened passenger who described the chanting as “disgusting” but said she was too scared to confront the boys.
Three students were suspended by then-principal Stephen Russell before a second video came to light days later of students performing another X-rated rap.
Mr Russell resigned months later after becoming embroiled in a child care scandal.
A Four Corners investigation in early 2020 revealed that Mr. Russell and head of sports Luke Travers had written glowing character references in court for a former running coach convicted of grooming a student under 16 in 2015.
St Kevin’s College was founded in 1918 and is a private primary and secondary school for boys only.
The school is currently run by Edmund Rice Education Australia, who plans to hand over control to an independent board next year.
Parents pay $20,995 a year to send their sons to St Kevin’s College (pictured)
St Kevin’s College full statement
The fundamental question is whether St. Kevin provides its teachers with a safe workspace. I strongly believe so, but there is always room for improvement.
Since my appointment two years ago, we have initiated a complete overhaul of practices and standards. It’s ironic that some people say we go too fast, while others say we go too slow.
I would like to capture that we are moving fast with this cultural shift. There is still more to do and the focus of the St. Kevin leadership team is to get it right. I am very proud of what we have achieved so far.
Our future efforts will be supported by two senior appointments: a deputy director focused on community engagement and another senior appointment focused on staff well-being.
Occasionally, teachers and students leave St. Kevin’s as a direct result of inappropriate behavior. Each case will be reviewed and action taken if necessary.
The one thing I’ve learned from this recent external survey is that our educator cohort expects the pace of cultural change, in measurable and tangible ways, to continue at a faster pace. I am determined to play my part to make this happen.