Message from the Principal
As a parent who may be considering applying to enrol your child/children at Wesley College, you would rightly be concerned about the recent reports of disrespectful behaviour and sexual misconduct within our student community at Wesley College. While this is not representative of the majority of students, I can assure you that Wesley College is addressing this issue head on and supports any current or past students that may have been impacted.
I have written to our current parents, students, past students and staff to express my deep sorrow and dismay and to apologise unreservedly to all those affected. We must face these issues with honesty, courage and a willingness to confront hard truths. It is, however, not enough to be devastated. I take this opportunity to share with you the actions that the College has taken and has planned, to ensure we provide a safe and supportive place for our students to learn.
- We have entered a phase of deep listening. We need to better understand the experiences of our students; the issues they face, how they feel, the impact such challenges are having on their health and wellbeing and ideas about how we can further support them at this time. Across our Senior Schools, we have established lunchtime forums with the Heads of Campus and Heads of Senior School at which students can come and discuss the Senior School culture. The same is occurring in the Middle Schools.
- We are engaging external trauma informed psychologists who will operate at arm’s length from the College. These psychologists will enable students to have a place to report their experiences within the College. They will then be able to advise and support students in their engagement with the College, suggest external support mechanisms if appropriate and support students with engagement with Victoria Police, if required.
- Educational consultants have been engaged who will use a combination of surveys and focus groups to provide the College with baseline data on attitudes within the student body. This will then be used to examine the efficacy of the programs we have in place. We need to better understand what is working, what is not working and therefore what can better support our students and our teachers. This baseline data will then be used to measure the interventions we put in place.
- We have partnered with Bravehearts, a leading child protection organisation, to provide a student program delivered in small groups that explores the topics of respectful relationships and personal safety for adolescents and is presented in age-appropriate modules. Topics include respectful relationships, understanding emotions, consent, confidentiality, bullying, internet safety, sexting, pornography, stress and seeking help. There is also a program for all College staff to expand their knowledge about managing trauma in the classroom, understand problem sexual behaviour and sexual harm, teach personal safety, recognise and respond to grooming, respond to disclosures and mandatory reporting, create Child Safe Classrooms, the indicators of harm and an explicit understanding of Wesley College policy and procedures. These programs will begin in Term 2.
If this has brought up issues for any current or former Wesley students, we invite them to contact the College in order that the College can support them in any way possible or, alternatively, they may wish to use the anonymous WesleySAFE service.
This is the beginning of a long process of listening and change. I believe wholeheartedly that education has the power to transform lives and hearts. This has been a call to action, and we are acting with the best interests of our students firmly in mind. If this has brought up issues for any current or former Wesley students, we invite them to contact the College in order that the College can support them in any way possible or, alternatively, they may wish to use the anonymous WesleySAFE service. This is the beginning of a long process of listening and change. I believe wholeheartedly that education has the power to transform lives and hearts. This has been a call to action, and we are acting with the best interests of our students firmly in mind.
Nick Evans, Principal