Premier demands reforms over elite school rape crisis

 

Brisbane's elite private schools must have processes in place that allow students to safely raise allegations of sexual assault, says Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Ms Palaszczuk was responding to questions based on The Courier-Mail revealing thousands of anonymous testimonies had been posted online as part of a viral petition calling for sexual consent education to be included in school curriculums from a young age.

The schools named in the petition are among the most prestigious boys-only institutions while many of the victims claim to have attended the state's top private girls' schools.

"I've just heard about those allegations and I think it's important that students have the opportunity to be heard and listened to," Ms Palaszczuk said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says schools must have process in place to allow allegations of sexual assault to be aired safely. Pic Peter Wallis
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says schools must have process in place to allow allegations of sexual assault to be aired safely. Pic Peter Wallis

"Every school must have a process in place (for a student) to come forward and state their case."

She said she would raise the "serious issues" with Education Minister Grace Grace at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Ms Palaszczuk also urged women to come forward and seek any help that is needed while saying the past month had taken a "huge toll" on a lot of women.

Brisbane Girls Grammar Principal Jacinda Euler said the accounts published on the petition are "extremely distressing" and graphically highlight the need for us all to do more.

"There must be a determination to ensure that the stories of these girls and young women bring about urgent collaborative change," she said.

Former Kambala student Chanel Contos is making a difference after she started the anonymous online petition to improve sex education in schools. Picture Supplied
Former Kambala student Chanel Contos is making a difference after she started the anonymous online petition to improve sex education in schools. Picture Supplied

Former Kambala student Chanel Contos started the anonymous online petition to improve sex and consent education in schools across Australia.

The petition came after former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins went public in mid-February with an allegation she was raped by a colleague in a minister's office in 2019.

The manner in which the Liberal Party handled the incident has been heavily criticised and the allegations have rocked federal politics.

"These are really serious issues," Ms Palaszczuk said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says speak with Education Minister Grace Grace (pictured) about the processes for sexual allegations to be reported at schools. Picture Matt Taylor
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says speak with Education Minister Grace Grace (pictured) about the processes for sexual allegations to be reported at schools. Picture Matt Taylor

"I think what we've seen over the last four weeks, it is taking an emotional toll on a lot of people.

"And if there's anyone out there that is feeling concerned or upset about what they're hearing, we urge you to please go to any of those support agencies, because I'm quite sure that the last four weeks is having a huge toll across a lot of women across our country.

"I please urge them to stand strong and to please go and see whatever necessary help is available"

Principals from two of Brisbane's elite girls schools said they advised their students to report any inappropriate social advances.

St Aidan's Anglican Girls' School principal Toni Riordan told The Courier-Mail that the school was "proud of our past students who have demonstrated incredible courage to share distressing and traumatic stories."

"We teach our students how to report, how to assert their rights and what is criminal behaviour," she said.

All Hallows' School principal Catherine O'Kane said the experiences shared by former students were "harrowing" and that "AHS Sisterhood is here for you".

"Our arms and hearts are open to our past pupils with support available through our counselling network and our active and connected Past Pupil's Association."

Originally published as Premier demands reforms over elite school rape crisis


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