What’s going wrong in the Remand system in Victoria?

Prison receptions have more than doubled over the last 10 years, and the proportion of prisoners received on remand has increased from 61% to 84% of all receptions.

Source: Corrections Victoria’s Annual Prisoner Statistics 

These prisoners are on remand, that is they are waiting to appear before a magistrate or judge. A staggering 9531 or 84% of the total number of prisoners held in remand in Victoria are released from remand without being found guilty.

The Andrew’s government has ordered nearly half of the beds at Ravenhall (Victoria’s largest prison) converted to house remand prisoners. With internal expansion, the capacity of Ravenhall has now been increased to 1600. This means 800 remand prisoners will be housed there.

The Metropolitan Remand Centre has capacity for 918.

These prisoners are on remand, that is they are waiting to appear before a magistrate or judge. A staggering 9531 or 84% of the total number of prisoners held in remand in Victoria are released from remand without being found guilty.

The Andrew’s government has ordered nearly half of the beds at Ravenhall converted to house remand prisoners. With internal expansion, the capacity of Ravenhall has now been increased to 1600. This means 800 remand prisoners will be housed there.

The Metropolitan Remand Centre has capacity for 918.

This means the total carrying capacity for remand prisons is 1718, well short of the 7741 in the system. That leaves 6023 unsentenced remand prisoners somewhere else in the system. That’s a very big number considering that there are currently 8110 (expected rise to11,130 by June 2023) convicted prisoners in the system.

It is reasonable to assume that these extra prisoners are being housed in other prisons. This means that innocent people, possibly who’ve never been charged with a crime before, are rubbing shoulders with hardened criminals. 

However, another set of official figures from Corrections current Victoria show only an estimated 3500 unable to get bail on remand.

That’s a discrepancy of 3000 between two sets of official figures.

Whichever set of figures is correct that some alarmingly large number of people being held in remand only to be found not guilty.

Chris Vedelago and Royce Millar wrote in The Age “Key factors have been the toughening of parole after Adrian Bayley raped and murdered Jill Meagher while on parole in 2012, and restrictive new bail laws introduced following the Bourke Street killings by James Gargasoulas in 2017.”

Considering that “In 2017–18, 54% of prisoners who became sentenced received to sentence less than six months.” (Source Corrections Victoria), it is of use that a large proportion of the prisons in the system are serving relatively short terms, presumably for relatively minor offences.

So, one conclusion that could be drawn from this is that the prison system is currently holding a lot of innocent people and a large proportion of ones it does convict receive very short terms. 

Given that slightly over 40% of the prison population returns after two years, putting relatively minor offenders in jail with hardened criminals seems to be entirely counter-productive.

There is evidence to suggest that one reason for being sent to prison is having spent time in prison beforehand. There is probably little evidence or research to support the hypothesis that innocent people, who are ultimately released without being convicted, but who have spent time with criminal inmates, are likely to become criminals.

But may represent an alarming dynamic that is contributing to our prison population. And if this is true, it is a worrying trend in our criminal justice system.

Louisa May Alcott and Adam Goodes: two voices, the same story.

We have recently seen two films: Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s book Little Women and the documentary, The Australian Dream, the story of indigenous footballer Adam Goodes and his stand against racism in the AFL and more broadly in Australia.

You can watch The Australian Dream on ABC iView

The documentary was scripted by Stan Grant who, along with former Sydney AFL teammate, Michael O’Loughlin, both of whom recall similar experiences and provide a moving commentary on Goodes’ experience.

Adam Goodes is an Indigenous Australian who played AFL football, the home grown and dominant football code in Australia.

He has twice won the Brownlow medal award for the best and fairest player in the entire league.

In the 90-year history of the League, three players have won this three times and eight players have won it twice. This places Goodes in the parthenon of AFL greats.

In 2014, Goodes was been named the 2014 Australian of the Year. Goodes was awarded this in recognition of his leadership and dedication to the Indigenous community.

The film documents a number of high-profile incidents in Goodes’s life when he confronted the racism that was part of his football career.

The documentary examines these incidents and provided Goodes’ commentary on them. In doing this, the film subtly but convincingly portrays a number of high-profile personalities as people who personify racism in the Australian media that so upset Adam Goodes: Eddie McGuire, Sam Newman and Andrew Bolt.

The first incident is in a match between Goodes’s the Sydney Swans and Collingwood. Goodes heard a racist taunt from the crowd and confronted the Collingwood supporter, who turned out to be a 14-year-old girl and who had called “You’re an ape, Goodes.” Goodes indicated to the security guards that he wished them to remove the young girl from the ground, which they did. Goodes later said that this was ” the face of racism in Australia”. At the time, it was immensely unpopular comment being being made about a14-year-old girl.

However, on reflection I think he was right. The girl was an example and product of her environment and upbringing where this casual and unthinking racism flourishes. 

After the game, the president of the Collingwood club, TV personality Edie McGuire, came and apologised to Goodes and assured him of his support.

Next day, on talkback radio McGuire likened Goodes to King Kong. He later apologised after a media storm broke out, saying he mis-spoken. It could not have been a worse chosen and more unfortunate mistake.

The next incident also involved McGuire on the popular “Footie Show which McGuire hosts. A fellow indigenous footballer friend of Goodes, Nicky Winmar, was scheduled to appear on the show but did not turn up. One of the other members of the show, Sam Newman, left to set and returned with his face blackened saying he was standing in for Winmar.

You can view the video

To say this was embarrassingly insensitive would be an understatement. Even McGuire looked uncomfortable, but he did not tell Newman to leave the set and wash his face let Newman continue the segment as a “blackface”. 

In the documentary, McGuire defended his colleague:

“He (Newman) didn’t understand the nuance. He was a product of those times,” McGuire said.

“He was a ’60s, ’70s vaudevillian who was sending up because he didn’t turn up on the show that night.”

Winmar is often referred as a pioneer for Indigenous footballers after his iconic 1993 gesture which saw him raise his shirt in front of thousands of jeering spectators saying: “I’m black – and I’m proud to be black!”

There is now a statue of Winmar and this iconic moment at the Optus Stadium in Perth.There is now a statue of Winmar and this iconic moment at the Optus Stadium in Perth.

But perhaps most famous incident was the time when Goodes confronted members of the Carlton cheer squad who had been hurling racist taunts at him during a match. In an imitation of an aboriginal war dance, Goodes ran towards the crowd threatening to throw an imaginary spear at them.

The action was to unleash a barrage of abuse directed at Goodes when he appeared on the field from then on.

Ultimately this led to the two-times Brownlow medal winner retiring from football.

In his quiet and articulate way, Goodes effectively rebuts the commentary of right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt. Bolt appears in the documentary and argues that in doing the war dance and highlighting the issues of racism in Australia, Goodes got everything he deserved when he was racially abused by successful football crowds.

In his calm, reasoned and unapologetic defence of his actions and position, Goodes stresses that the only people who really understand racism in Australia are the people who have suffered under it.

And this brings us to the film Little Women. Like the Adam Goodes documentary, Little Women shows the manifestation of another form of discrimination, the discrimination and inequality of women in the 19th century.

It stars Saoirse Ronan as Josephine “Jo” March and Timothée Chalamet as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence.

With Emma Watson as Margaret “Meg” March, Florence Pugh as Amy March, Eliza Scanlen as Elizabeth “Beth” March, Laura Dern as Marmee March

John Matteson writing in The Atlantic: Among children’s classics, Little Women is virtually unique in its lack of a personified villain. The prevalent reading of the novel is that the chief evil that must be fought and subdued is the flaw in each character’s own breast, whether Jo’s temper, Laurie’s laziness, or Beth’s shyness. While these inner struggles are amply addressed in the film, Gerwig convincingly proposes an alternative reading: A considerable source of pain in Alcott’s world is the disapproving masculine gaze, so often clad in the guise of moral judgment, that can bruise a woman’s self-esteem and steal her self-expression.

The film shows the women in the March family growing up while their father is away fighting in the Civil War (1861 – 1865). Life is not easy, they are poor and being poor means the chances of the girls being married, particularly married to money, are not good. 

Marmee March is kind of woman who would receive instant beatification on arriving in heaven. She is a faultless role model for the children and when Jo asks why she is not angry, she confesses that she is angry every day of her life but does not let that take over because she knows it is totally destructive and unproductive. Because her husband is away at war, she is left with the responsibility of bringing up the children without any means of earning a living. In those days, it was rare for women to go to school and even rarer for them to have productive jobs or financial independence.

For Jo, who wishes to be an author and who has success in publishing her stories, the thought of financial independence and a life that is not reliant upon husband is the driving force in her life. 

However, when she explained her desire for independence to Aunt March (Meryl Streep), her rich aunt tells her that women can’t be independent.

Jo replies to her aunt “Well, you are” to which her aunt replies “I’m rich.” The point is not lost on Jo who is poor.

Jo realises that if she were to be independent and rich as result of the writing and then were to be married, all her money would become her husband’s, she would be part of her husband’s property and have no independence whatsoever.

Jo has very close teenage relationship with Laurie, a rich, sensitive and intelligent but ultimately feckless, individual. When Laurie proposes marriage, Jo turns him down saying she knows that it wouldn’t work. He is devastated. Later, Jo changes her mind and writes to him saying she wishes to marry him. But in the meantime, Laurie has proposed to, and married her sister, Amy.

There is a beautiful scene in which Jo meets her publisher, Mr. Dashwood (Tracy Letts) to discuss the possible publication of her novel. He tells her that he will only publish the novel if the heroine gets married at the end of it. The heroine in the novel, of course, is Jo, and in the first draft of the book, she does not get married. 

Jo tells Dashwood that marriage is an economic proposition, just as the negotiations over the publication of her book are an economic proposition. She decides to marry her heroine off at the end of the story. She then demonstrates her literary smarts by negotiating a very favourable deal with the hard-headed publisher.   

Little Women is a gentle film told from the perspective of the protagonist who understands why she is in the predicament she is.

While it is a gentle film, the message of Little Women is hard edged. Women’s inequality is a result of the attitudes, of even the best of men, that are entrenched the norms of society. 

And like The Australian Dream, the narrative of Little Women comes from the lives of the people who suffer the discrimination that makes them second-class citizens.

Indigenous and women’s inequality the result of the pervasive and unthinking actions of men and women who reinforce the patterns of discrimination that are deeply ingrained in the life of the Little Women and, as Adam Goodes would argue, a good proportion of the population of Australia.

Nipples on Facebook: what you can and can’t do

Just thought when I posted the blog on Lot and his daughters that the nipple censor might block my post. The painting is by Federico Cervelli (1625 in Milan – before 1700) who was an Italian painter

Tim Haslett's Blog

It is the first time in my life I’ve had a post blocked on Facebook. I was commenting on an exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney. The White Rabbit Gallery is a gallery founded by billionaire philanthropist Judith Neilson and has become one of the world’s most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art

I was commenting on the work of Han Lei

Han Lei subverts the norms of idealised female beauty found in Western oil paintings of the nude. In the first, reclining in the guise of Manet’s courtesan Olympia or standing in a trio reminiscent of Rubens’ Three Graces where his models are ordinary women with imperfect bodies. They meet our gaze was disconcerting frankness and dignity that belies their tacky accoutrements. You decide.

I included these pictures by way of comparison.

Apparently Facebook does not object to Rubens

or Manet

However, Facebook does not appear to…

View original post 93 more words

Research evidence exposes the functioning of organised paedophile networks in the Christian Brothers

In THE AGE today an article by Debbie Cuthbertson: Study identifies 16 child sex abuse rings in Victorian Catholic Church

The article reports on “A three-year research project into paedophile Catholic clerics in Victoria has identified 16 child sex abuse networks operating over six decades involving 99 priests and Christian Brothers.”

The research, which used a technique called Social Network Analysis, “found that clergy paedophile rings shared patterns of behaviour with criminal gangs, the Mafia, terrorist cells, corrupt police, drug dealers, money launderers and price-fixing cartels.

An example of Social Network Analysis

SNA has been used to map links between terror cells involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks and 2005 London bombings, and to track child sex trafficking networks in Britain, Italian money-laundering rackets and an Australian amphetamine trafficking ring.

The researcher, Sally Muytjens, spent more than three years investigating “dark networks” of paedophile clergy in Victorian dioceses. She published the research late last year, receiving a doctorate from Queensland University of Technology.”

The study identified two notorious paedophiles f ormer Christian Brother Edward “Ted” Dowlan, was active in five of the 16 dark networks and Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer.

Her thesis examined the responses of the Catholic Church to such criminal activity, describing the institution as a “grey network” that repeatedly facilitated abuse.

Successive Archbishops since Mannix, who was appointed 1940, were part of this “grey network”. The Archbishops had a continuing role in the support of these networks right down to Bishop George Pell, now himself a convicted paedophile.

“One of these patterns was promoting known clergy perpetrators of child sex abuse to senior positions which not only provided further access to victims but also placed them in positions where they were better able to protect the dark network from exposure,”

The code of silence among Catholic clergy in Victoria mirrored patterns of behaviour exhibited by groups including crooked police and the Mafia, Muytjens added, and that “extended to a refusal to give evidence to the police”. “Similar methods were utilised by clergy perpetrator networks within the Victorian Catholic Church to maintain silence.”

Documented clusters of paedophile clergy, including at St Alipius Boys’ School in Ballarat in the 1970s, showed they were “conducting illicit activity in an organised and co-operative way”

“Some [clergy] committed child sex abuse at institutions where they were the only known dark network actor … [but] they were also transferred to parishes where there were clusters of other known clergy perpetrators.

Notorious pedophile and friend of convicted pedophile George Pell, George Ridsdale and Br Dowlan’s movement between clusters … [and] the number of convictions for these two clergy perpetrators demonstrates the unfettered access they had to child victims.”

“Members of the sexual underworld support one another in seeking positions of responsibility by praising one another and condemning any critics … this sexual underworld is so pervasive that acknowledging and addressing this may destroy a Diocese,”

“The data showed that “clergy perpetrators … were placed in roles of recruiting boys to the priesthood”.

Bettina Arndt is on the wrong side of history and Queensland’s Police Commissioner.

The self-proclaimed clinical psychologist has commented on the actions of the senior Queensland police officer investigating the horrendous murder of Hannah Clarke and her three young children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, at the hands of Rowan Baxter,

Congratulations to the Queensland police for keeping an open mind and awaiting proper evidence, including the possibility that Rowan Baxter might have been “driven too far.” But note the misplaced outrage. How dare police deviate from the feminist script of seeking excuses…

In a television interview after the crime, Detective Inspector Mark Thompson suggested the deaths of Ms Clarke and her young children was potentially a result of her own actions.

“Is this an issue of a woman suffering significant domestic violence, and her and her children perishing at the hands of the husband?

“Or is it an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues that he’s suffered by certain circumstances into committing acts of this form?”

Queensland’s Police Commissioner has asked the detective leading the investigation into the murder-suicide in Camp Hill to step aside from the investigation.

In addition, Commissioner Carroll has publicly apologised for comments made by the detective leading the investigation into the Camp Hill murder-suicide.

The comments were “victim-blaming at its worst”, said Betty Taylor who heads the Red Rose Foundation – an organisation that raises awareness about domestic violence.

One comment from Eddy Jokovich pretty much sums it up the response to Arndt 0n Twitter: Oh for sure. It was the fault of the children too. Life’s good on planet Bettina, the home of alternative realities.

Arndt’s commentary, and that of Pauline Hanson, only adds fuel to the fire of the anger that many disaffected men feel about their situation. Perhaps many have the right to feel aggrieved by the processes they have been subjected to. But resorting to violence is not the way to resolve the situation.

But in saying what she did Arndt has appeared to condone a most horrendous act of brutality.

It is appalling that a clinical psychologist, albeit a self-proclaimed one, cannot see the damage that she is doing.

The role of the media in civil society

The Guardian published an excellent article by Jeff Sparrow today.

When scandal means nothing, how can the media hold our leaders to account?

Here are what I regard as the salient points

Poetry, WH Auden once wrote, makes nothing happen.

The same might be said of journalism.

The expectations of journalism have never been higher, with many liberals convinced that almost all the depredations of contemporary politics could be prevented if only the press put its mind to it.

Take the tenacious reporting that pursued Angus Taylor: The media spotlight directed at Taylor raised questions of potential wrongdoing for all to see … and then the authorities shrugged and moved on.

(When) Scott Morrison stonewalls and blusters for long enough, even the most determined interviewer must go to the next question – and then Morrison can repeat the tactic until the issue goes stale.

Many commentators have contrasted today’s political impunity with the story of Bob Hawke’s special minister of state Mick Young, who famously stepped down after he and his wife failed to declare a stuffed Paddington bear in their luggage after an overseas trip.

As the Age’s Tony Wright says, Young’s conduct would be “unimaginable now”.

Not only has union density sunk to an all-time low, the political parties that once boasted huge memberships have become empty shells. Much the same might be said about the traditional churches, social movements and community groups.

Elizabeth Humphrys documents in her recent book on neoliberalism and Australia, the free market reforms implemented by Hawke and Paul Keating devastated the labour movement – and, eventually, civil society more generally.

In the past, the existence of stable mass organisations gave some force to political conventions like “ministerial responsibility”, partly because traditions need institutional memory to persist but also (and more importantly) because those organisations provided the public with mechanisms (however imperfect) through which leaders might be disciplined.

The density of civil society in the 1980s meant since a much larger proportion of the population had some organised engagement with public life.

It’s that engagement that gives journalism heft.

Think, for instance, about the role played by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward from the Washington Post in bringing down Richard Nixon.

The contemporary American context could not be more different.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” boasted Donald Trump in 2016. Everyone knows who Trump is and what he represents – and yet that knowledge, in and of itself, changes nothing.

It’s not enough to know. You need to be able to act – and, today, most people feel that they can’t.

A widespread public alienation from the political process gives Trump (and the growing number of Trump imitators) tremendous latitude – a latitude that, in turn, fosters more public alienation.

The consequences of Teacher Education’s slow, but inevitable, decline

In The Age today today Teaching students struggling to finish their degrees, report says

The article lists some disturbing figures about completion rates and entrance standards into teacher education programs.

One in two aspiring teachers are failing to finish their degree within six years, and the number of students accepted into education courses with ATARs lower than 50 has grown fivefold over the past decade.”

In 2005, 65% of students finished their undergraduate degree in six years. By 2018 this figure had dropped to 49%. Given that the degree is a three-year degree completion of six years is hardly a very high standard and would suggest that those graduating in six years may not be the highest calibre of the intake.

In addition, students with an ATAR score of between 30 and 50 has increased fivefold in the decade to 2016. This means that students entering teacher education programs are on the 30th to the 50th percentile of academic achievement. Hardly something to inspire confidence in the quality of the graduates.

It also suggests that a significant proportion of graduating teachers will be not be as academically gifted, and possibly not as bright, as the students are teaching.

There is also a significant problem in that 80% of students do not have an ATAR score. Some of these are postgraduate students but 48% of students entering teacher education have no record of an academic standard.

Teacher education is now locked into a very bad negative feedback loop.

As the demand for teacher education requirements, Education faculties increase the size of the intake to keep their numbers up, this leads to a decline in entry standards, a decline in graduation standards and consequent decline in the perception of the quality (and desirability) of the teacher education programs which feeds back into the demand for teacher education.

The author of the study Sydney University academic Rachel Wilson says “”The lowest [completion rates] are the online only courses, and that’s not very surprising. We don’t know very much about them. The completion rates are also lower for the low ATAR students.”

The situation has now been worsening over the last 15 years with considerable reputational damage to teacher education programs.  Reversing this trend is going to be difficult and time-consuming. 

The situation is exacerbated by retention rates amongst first-year teachers.

In addition to losing a disturbingly large percentage of students in teacher education programs, a recent article by Paul Weldon from the Australian Council for Educational Research entitled “Early career teacher attrition in Australia: evidence, definition, classification and measurement” suggests that “early career teacher attrition in Australia is worryingly high, with estimates commonly of 30–50% of teachers leaving within their first five years in teaching”

This is a simple model of six years of teacher education and the first five years profession. 

The model takes a conservative estimate of teachers leaving teaching in the first five years of 30%.

The model shows that 35% of students entering teacher education are still in the profession after five years

“This is a disturbing trend that suggests lower and lower returns are being reaped for higher and higher investment in undergraduate initial teacher education, and with untold personal costs,” Dr Wilson said.

It also suggests that a significant proportion of graduating teachers will be not be as academically gifted, and possibly not as bright, as the students are teaching.

The causes of the high resignation rates amongst young graduate teachers are many and varied: large classes, administrative workloads, professional isolation amongst them. There is also possible to argue that the high attrition rates are also a result of the inadequate benefits that graduates have been able to derive from the teacher education program

St Kevin’s principal tries to minimise damage in grooming scandal

The Age The headmaster of St Kevin’s College has sought to distance the school from its former long serving volunteer athletics coach, convicted child groomer Peter Kehoe, telling parents he was never employed by the school.

Mr Russell told parents that Kehoe’s offending occurred online and “in a private coaching setting away from the college and of which the college was neither aware nor involved”.

Both Russell and Dean of sport Luke Travers, issued a character reference for Kehoe in 2015.

Mr Russell condemned the behaviour of Mr Travers in his letter to parents.

“The conduct of Mr Travers in 2015 was absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Russell told parents.  

Apparently, Travers attended Kehoe’s trial but Russell contends that this was “in an individual capacity. He did so without the college’s knowledge or consent.”

Poor old Travers, he is clearly being lined up as the scapegoat in this case.

Both Russell and Dean of sport Luke Travers, issued a character reference for Kehoe in 2015.

Mr Russell condemned the behaviour of Mr Travers in his letter to parents.

“The conduct of Mr Travers in 2015 was absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Russell told parents.  

Apparently Travers attended Kehoe’s trial but Russell contends that this was “in an individual capacity. He did so without the college’s knowledge or consent.”

Are these statements helping more than just making the situation worse?

It doesn’t matter that Kehoe was not actually employed by the school. He was a long-term volunteer. But that does not absolve Russell or the school from supervising him properly.

Saying that St Kevin’s had no knowledge of the actions of Kehoe and Travers suggests a woeful inadequacy of supervision.

Boris Johnson’s new advisor has some repugnant views on race, eugenics and women’s sport.

From The Guardian

 Andrew Sabisky, who has suggested “enforced contraception” be used to prevent the creation of a “permanent underclass”.

Black Americans have a lower than average IQ than white people and are more likely to have an “intellectual disability”

“I am always straight up in saying that women’s sport is more comparable to the Paralympics than it is to men’s.”

“From a societal perspective the benefits of giving everyone modafinil once a week are probably worth a dead kid once a year.” (there is evidence of a higher risk of people getting Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a life-threatening skin condition.)

“One way to get around the problems of unplanned pregnancies, creating a permanent underclass, would be to legally enforce universal uptake of long-term contraception at the onset of puberty,”

“There are excellent reasons to think the very real racial differences in intelligence are significantly – even mostly – genetic in origin, though the degree is of course a very serious subject of scholarly debate.”

Although Boris Johnson spokesperson refused to distance the PM from the comments, the axe fell quickly.

Andrew Sabisky: No 10 adviser resigns over alleged race comments

The BBC reports: Mr Sabisky had been appointed earlier this year after the prime minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings called for “misfits and weirdos” to apply for jobs in Downing Street.

Sabinsky said “I know this will disappoint a lot of people but I signed up to do real work, not be in the middle of a giant character assassination,”

A profoundly disturbing 4 Corners program on child abuse and misogyny at St Kevin’s

Last night, the ABC program 4 Corners covered two deeply disturbing aspects of the elite Catholic private school, St Kevin’s.

The first part of the program focusses on the behaviour of the pupils of Kevin’s on public transport system. In a video, St Kevin’s pupils are engaged in a call-and response chant that went.

“I wish that all the ladies/ Were holes in the road/ If I was a dump truck/ I’d fill them with my load.” 

Many women would have been appalled at this behaviour but it was particularly distressing for the young women from other schools, who are travelling on the tram.

One can only assume that the chant had first been rehearsed at the school. Are the staff at St Kevin’s tone deaf? Why was this behaviour not detected before it went public?

The school was, quite rightly, subjected to a barrage of negative social media comment over the incident. One can only imagine the horror of some parents seeing their young children trained in this type of misogynistic behaviour.

There were also scenes of St Kevin’s pupil’s at public school sports events engaged in ritualistic chanting, designed not only to support their own athletes, but also to intimidate others. The disturbing aspect of this was, that in the background, there was another school replying to the St Kevin’s chants with similarly aggressive behaviour. We have seen in soccer matches that this behaviour is a precursor to violent outbreaks of sports events.

The program also reported that a St Kevin’s pupil had taken a photograph up the skirt of the female staff member.

Why are the schools involved, and St Kevin’s in particular, not curbing this behaviour? Because it is this kind of misogynistic behaviour that spills over into the obscene chants on public transport.

We know, as students of the influence of organisational systems on behaviour, that this behaviour is the result of a deep systemic structure, in this case, a pervasive culture which encourages and reinforces misogynistic behaviour.

What is it about St Kevin’s that produces this behaviour?

The answer to this complex question needs to be used to be found.

The worrying aspect is that the current school headmaster, Stephen Russell, may not be the person to do it. His actions during the conviction of the staff member for grooming would indicate that, in addition to an appalling lack of understanding of the manner in which St Kevin’s pupils behave in public, his actions and attitude towards child abuse that was being practised in the school, show that he was in complete denial. 

St Kevin’s principal Stephen Russell

Which brings us to the second part of a program.

The 4 Corners program outlined, in a series of interviews, the process that led to the conviction of former coach Peter Kehoe for grooming a child under the age of 16.

Saint Kevin’s sports coach and convicted sex offender, Peter Kehoe

This involved a year nine student, Paris Street, who appeared on the 4 Corners program, outlining the nature of the offence and the impact it had on his later life.  It was a moving, courageous and ultimately deeply saddening performance by the young man who was cross-examined for two days by top QC, Robert Richter, who also defended George Pell.

One can only imagine what that experience must have been like for a 19-year-old boy on top of the already traumatic experiences that he documented the program.

In addition, former St Kevin’s student Finley Tobin told Four Corners he received an unsolicited message from the teacher after midnight one night during his year 12 exams. 

But then the program showed something quite unbelievable.

The school’s principal, Stephen Russell and the dean of sports Luke Travers both provided the court with references for Kehoe.

Travers said he “felt obliged” to support Kehoe. “As a friend, I did not want him to be convicted,” Mr Travers said, according to the ABC.

In contrast, Paris and his friend Ned O’Brien, to whom he confided Kehoe’s grooming and who became a witness at the trial, told Four Corners they received no support from the school before the trial.

The only concern from the school, expressed by headmaster Russell to Ned’s mother, appears to be that Paris and Ned may have worn their St. Kevin’s blazers during the trial.

Stephen Russell encapsulated his attitude when he wrote to parents late last week with some lines quoted from Irish poet John O’Donohue:

‘This is the time to be slow/ Lie low to the wall/ Until the bitter weather passes’.”

No sign of contrition, no sympathy for Paris Street, no acceptance of responsibility of duty of care. 

Just the same old defence that one sees from the Roman Catholic hierarchy every time it is caught up in one of these appalling scandals.

The laughable aspect of this whole sordid affair is that on the day after the 4 Corners program, Stephen Russell told The Age that “the reference, given to a court in 2015 at the request of convicted former coach Peter Kehoe, was an error of judgment.”

There was a similar statement from dean of sport, Luke Travers.

Strange that he should only realise this after St Kevin’s was the subject of a nationwide TV program.

Read more

The Age: Calls for St Kevin’s head to go over reference for convicted coach

News.com ‘Betrayed’: Headmaster gave reference to coach who groomed student at St Kevin’s College

The Australian: St Kevin’s College backs sex offender Peter Kehoe

Latest developments

‘Never a member of staff’: St Kevin’s headmaster distances school from convicted coach

Education watchdog will probe St Kevin’s child protection standards