Teachers allege sexual harassment and racism at St Bernard’s College


Another teacher told the union official that she took a group of boys on a tram, on which they sang, “Who let the dogs out? about a female passenger, simulated anal sex and sexual images dropped between them.

“In addition to the health and safety risk this poses to staff members, there is a substantial reputational risk to the school,” the report said.

A report based on staff testimonies indicates that in some cases school management brushed aside alleged misconduct.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

The boys were bumping into some female teachers in the stairwells, apparently intentionally, the union official said.

Yet the report also details staff complaints about inadequate responses from school management.

“Staff were concerned that any reporting of events would reflect poorly on their teaching practice rather than the appalling behavior of students,” he says.

“Their experience is that these issues are not taken seriously and there is a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude towards issues of sexual harassment and violence.”

In an on-campus meeting last month between a union official and St Bernard manager Michael Davies, Davies compared many of the alleged cases to what happens at any regular football club, the report says. .

The school has defended the behavior of the vast majority of its 1,600 students.

“In the case of these examples of misbehavior, we acted immediately to condemn the unacceptable actions and punish students, including suspensions, with the support of parents to hold these students to account,” Davies said.

The school launched its own survey of behavior on the tram the evening the group returned from the excursion and brought in the students’ families to work with their sons to ensure their behavior was respectful, indicated the school.

Davies said the school has a number of respectful relationship programs.

“We are fully committed to educating our young men as respectful and responsible members of the wider community, and that includes speaking out against unacceptable behavior when it occurs,” he said.

Alleged instances of anti-Semitic racism are also detailed in the report, including the carving of swastikas on school furniture.

In one case, a teacher said a large swastika carved into a whiteboard was allegedly left there for six weeks while she was on long-term leave, and forced her to file two reports before she not be removed.

The school said the markings were removed as soon as maintenance and management personnel were alerted.


The Independent Education Union recommended that the school employ an independent third party to receive staff reports of sexual harassment, given the unease expressed by employees about bringing them to the attention of their employer.

General Secretary Deb James said the union is deeply concerned about continuing cultural issues at several Catholic schools for boys.

“Many all-boys schools are welcoming, inclusive and inspiring places to work, but sadly there are too many others where female staff tell us they are belittled, threatened and objectified,” James said.

“There are no gray areas on gender-based violence. These working cultures need urgent reform.

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