The figures are from the commission’s reportable conduct scheme, which requires organisations such as schools, religious bodies and the out-of-home care sector to notify the commission of allegations against workers and volunteers to enable independent oversight.
The education sector accounted for 23 per cent of reports to the commission for 2019-20, with the greatest increase in reports coming from Catholic schools, which rose by 59 per cent.
Sexual misconduct was the most prevalent allegation from independent and Catholic schools, while most reports from government schools were about physical violence.
The commission referred 191 allegations about registered teachers to the Victorian Institute for Teaching. More than 500 teachers have been referred since the scheme began in 2017.
More than a quarter of notifications from schools were about people who weren’t registered teachers, such as school crossing supervisors, sport coaches and music tutors.
The number of reports from the public in January to March this year doubled from 30 to 60 compared with the same period last year.
The commission, while it didn’t name St Kevin’s, attributed the increase to the Four Corners report into the school’s handling of a child-grooming case.
“Certainly at that time we saw a surge in parents, past students and community members contacting us both about sexual misconduct in schools, but also about other forms of abusive behaviour to children in schools,” Ms Buchanan said.
The Toorak school’s acting principal has been before the Fair Work Commission this week over the sacking of a veteran maths teacher while the school was in crisis over the Peter Kehoe case.
Mr Kehoe, a former volunteer coach, was convicted of grooming year 9 student Paris Street in 2015.
Ms Buchanan, who would not comment on the St Kevin’s case, said though institutions could do better to protect children, many schools are trying to do the right thing.
“We have seen really significant improvements from a number of schools and a number of organisations in how they respond to child abuse,” she said.
Catholic Education Commission Victoria executive director Jim Miles said the care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people were a central and fundamental responsibility that Catholic schools take seriously.
“No circumstance where there is reasonable suspicion of harm to children will be tolerated or should go unreported in a Catholic school,” Mr Miles said.
“Mandatory reporting is not only a legal requirement in our schools but forms a vital component of our overall response to providing child-safe environments. It is non-negotiable.”
Out of all the allegations reported to the Commission for Children and Young People since the scheme began three years ago, about 30 per cent have been substantiated. Almost 60 per cent were referred to Victoria Police for investigation.
According to the commission’s latest annual report, charges were laid or are pending in only seven per cent of allegations referred to police. Almost half had investigations completed with no further action.
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Tammy Mills is the legal affairs reporter for The Age.