WorkSafe says it's all good at Yirara College


p2218-John-ProeveBy ERWIN CHLANDA
“De-escalating serious student behaviour” was already on the Yirara College agenda two years ago when senior staff, Lutheran Church heavies, John Proeve (pictured), the Executive Director of Lutheran Schools Australia, the teachers’ union and Work Safe had a two-day pow-wow.
Despite the best of intentions to address urgently “significant issues” not much has changed, according to two teachers employed there last year, and one working currently, who went public in the Alice Springs News Online in the past two weeks.
But it’s all good according to Work Safe which, asked for a comment by the News, provided us with the following statement today: “NT WorkSafe conducted an investigation at Yirara College between May 2012 and August 2013 after being notified of an incident.
“During the course of the investigation, it became evident that some of the work health and safety policy and procedures in place at the college were inadequate.
“An improvement notice was issued to the college requiring the development and implementation of more robust policy and procedures.
“The notice was complied with and the investigation has been completed.
“NT WorkSafe has not received any further notifications or complaints from Yirara College since the above incident.”
College principal Roger Ashcroft yesterday cancelled at short notice a meeting he had asked for with the News, and we still have no answer to our request for a news gathering visit to the college.
A two page memorandum after the March 2013 meeting was leaked to the News.
It was addressed to “Colleagues” and said issues had not been dealt with “in a timely manner”.
The principal at the time, Andrew Mirtschin, “affirms the right of staff to act collectively and be represented by their union”.
It is the Independent Education Union Queensland and NT, whose Lead Organiser Nick Holliday was a co-signatory of the memorandum.
Mr Mirtschin apologised for not responding formally to a communication from the union chapter.
The college committed to “compiling an appropriate policy and procedure” addressing serious student behaviour and “providing staff with ongoing training”.


  1. A safe workplace? Fire hoses being aimed at staff and students as they attempt to go up the stairs to classrooms, female staff being locked in a dormitory block (used as a temporary detention centre) for extended periods alone with anything up to a dozen young men, a teacher being threatened by a student with being stabbed in that same block, students attacking others students violently in the classrooms, students throwing desks and chairs at one another in the classrooms, students running around the school kicking in doors, throwing rocks and bashing and breaking windows to mention a few! Oh yes, Yirara without a doubt is a safe workplace!

  2. I am aware of the Memorandum circulated by then Principal Andrew Mirtschin and my understanding is that Behaviour Management Policy was revised in accord with the requirements of the Improvement Notice.
    I believe that behaviour issues were categorised under the revised policy and various levels of consequence were to be applied according to the severity of the misdemeanour.
    For more serious issues, the consequences outlined in the policy were often not consistently applied. One can only imagine the mixed messages this would send to students and to staff, and such action only served to breed contempt.
    It seems to me that Behaviour Management is largely a reactive process and the interests of all would be better served with a proactive focus.
    All this aside, various commentators on these news articles have indicated there are many other issues which must be addressed first, which would impact positively in reducing poor behaviour in the first instance.

  3. It seems the present principal inherited the problem but this does not exonerate him.
    It is now 2015 and the WorkSafe report is hardly current. Term 2 is 5 weeks away at least.
    You can only fool some of the people some of the time. When is the next board meeting?

  4. Oh me oh my. This is smells of cover ups and ignorance. A lesson that in all these thousands of years we still have learned nothing. Ignore violence at your own peril. Always nip the bud the first sign of bad behaviour.
    By the time it comes to the second time it is a learnt behaviour and there is nothing to stop that freight train. It picks up supporters and crashes down anything in its path.

  5. Maybe we are all just dreaming and these stories are fabrications? After all, if those on the Governing Board and Management are happy with the way things are, perhaps we should let it be?
    Or is it a Nightmare coming back to haunt each and every one of us including those decision makers sitting in offices down in Adelaide? I imagine each has a sand pit to bury their heads on occasions.
    NT Worksafe did investigate. Yes. Do they not follow up on matters such as they investigated? Or again, is it in the too hard basket for them?
    The union were involved, too hard basket to follow up perhaps?
    Lutheran Safe Place followed some complaints from staff. From what I have heard Lutheran Safe Place were shot down soon after their investigation.
    And so it goes on.
    And the nightmares continue.

  6. Why is it so hard for those in charge to say: “Hey, we realise Yirara College is not how it should be, in fact it’s bad! Now, here’s our plan to make changes and get back to a safe and functional school, providing a safe learning environment that is welcoming not only to those students wanting to learn but also the staff there to support Yirara College.”
    Bring the students who want to be at Yirara College and create this safe environment.
    Explain the new Behavioural Management and its consistency.
    Then slowly reintroduce students that find the transition challenging. Have these challenging students understand the new established behavioural management school and how it is “managed consistently”.
    Admin need to hold their part with consistency. If the challenging students can’t adjust, reintroduce them later in the year with a new group of students.
    And by no means does reintroduce them later translate to bring them in week 6, 7, 8. What good is a student who doesn’t know the classroom / school routine, has not had the build up learning in weeks 1-5 and finds themselves behind the others in class?
    This brings nothing but shame to a person who needs nothing more than encouragement. Being brought in the middle to late term can cause frustration for the student which can lead to disruption for the class, school, campus.
    Never once did I mutter “it’s all good” while working at Yirara College. I do wish it would return to being a safe school.

  7. Well done, Tom Hardy. Well written. This exact process was suggested in 2012 to the principal of the time by senior staff.
    The factor of lessening students for a time meant loss of money coming in.
    Numbers of students were seen to be dropping at that stage and it appeared he was hesitant to go through this process. Perhaps he was being overridden from his superiors down in Adelaide?
    This was the second time he had been employed as principal at Yirara College. I have been told the first time he was principal there was for a very “short” time.

  8. Yesterday driving to airport three girls walking from the camp next to 8HA, two in Yirara school uniforms and one not. All walking towards the school. Time 2pm.
    Today at 9am a single boy in uniform walking towards town, in Yirara school uniform.
    Appears the school has no idea where the students are or maybe they just do not care.

  9. Oh my dear Janet Brown, did you do a similar count for students walking out of CMS or CSS? Wonder why there is a no school no service policy in so many shops etc around town?
    Seems to be a lot of very old news being rehashed by individuals that did not like the answer they got the first time!

  10. 10 Jobs advertised for work as teachers and classroom support staff at Yirara College.

  11. Being in a school does not remove your rights. If the consequences outlined in the policy are often not consistently applied the school is not fully and properly addressing threats and assaults, then report them to the police.


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