Question: DECD Employees


Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:50 ): My question is to the Minister for Education and Child Development. Are the three Department for Education and Child Development staff members, particularly identified by Magistrate Susan O'Connor in her reasons for dismissing the charges against Jemima Raymond, still in their positions at the school? 

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:50): The matter that the member is referring to is about a case that was taken through to the Magistrates Court recently. Not only was the person who was charged found not guilty but the magistrate had some comments to make about the processes that led up to that case being brought forward and also some reflections on some of the staff who had been involved as witnesses, for want of a better term. 

I have had a conversation with the chief executive of the department and he is well aware that he needs to review the comments in detail that were made by the magistrate and determine whether he needs to undertake any actions. You have asked specifically about whether they are in position. I don't have the detail on all three, so I will take that on notice, but I think the larger question is whether there will be any action resulting, and the chief executive will consider that and act accordingly. 

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:51 ): Supplementary: can I confirm from the minister's response that neither have the staff been disciplined in any way to this point? 

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:51): I am unaware of whether they have been disciplined at this point. I would be surprised, given the recent nature of the comments being made but I will seek advice from the chief executive who is properly the manager of staff in the department.

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:52 ): Supplementary: are there any reviews being taken into this incident and, in particular, into the evidence that was described by the magistrate as being the result of collusion by the staff members of DECD? Are there any reviews of this taking place other than that she has just identified being done by the chief executive? 

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:52): I did try to forestall this question by explaining that the chief executive will undertake an examination of the comments that were made. I am unaware of whether there are any other and independent reviews being undertaken. I can determine if that is the case and provide the information to the parliament.

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:52 ): Supplementary: will the minister provide the parliament with details of how this prosecution came to be put forward? Why weren't the police brought in immediately once it was felt that charges needed to be laid? 

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:53): There is a presumption there about an order of events that I am not sure the member is in a position to be so confident about. I will provide a briefing to the extent that it is possible to, without compromising the confidentiality of the student, the parent and the staff member involved. A statement can be provided to the house in order to clarify the situation. but I will not prejudice the employment of the individual who was charged and found not guilty, nor will I do anything that seeks to identify the child or the parents involved.

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:53 ): Supplementary: how does the minister respond then to the statement of the magistrate in her reasons, and I quote point 11: 

Be this a lesson for every Government Department and school community to call in the police at the first possible opportunity before staff members engage in such complicity to marshal a prosecution. 

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:54): I think that falls into the category of the comments that were made by the magistrate, that the chief executive will be reviewing and determining whether there is any action required.

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 14:54 ): Supplementary: will the minister now offer an apology to Jemima Raymond for what has happened to her? 

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:54): That is a reasonable question. I am never loath to offer apologies; however, I would prefer to have advice formally from the chief executive about the details of the procedures. You would be aware that it is not only one department that is involved when a prosecution is launched, so I will seek appropriate advice and act in accordance with that.