Bill Smith, 48, has been a dedicated teacher for twenty five years. His students love him, parents thank him for the interest he takes in their welfare, and he is popular with his fellow staff at the Victorian secondary college he teaches at in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Bill is credited with turning the lives around of some of the toughest and most troubled kids in the school.

Despite all this, Bill is about to be tossed out of the classroom because his registration — the license he needs to teach — is going to cancelled. Why? Because when Bill was 18 he received a small fine for having s-x with his 15-year-old girlfriend. The s-x was consensual, and Bill and the girl had been going out for a year. She had told her parents that she had had s-x with Bill and they hit the roof, reported him to the Police and he was charged.

Since then, Bill has not had one scrape with the law. He regrets the youthful incident, but is a stable and giving member of the community.

You would be right to think that it is pretty unfair, given Bill’s obviously outstanding record as a teacher, that he should lose his right to teach because of a minor incident 30 years ago wouldn’t you? And you would think it even more unfair, and probably bizarre that Bill is not allowed to appeal against a bureaucratic decision to cancel his registration.

This however is the current state of the law in Victoria. Teachers have been stripped of their right to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, against a decision to cancel their registration when it is done so on the basis of a police check revealing any s-xual offence which happened even forty years ago.

This means teachers’ are treated as second class citizens by the law in Victoria. And that is unfair in itself.

Therefore, it is extraordinary that today the Victorian Liberal Party and parent’s groups are outraged that the State’s Education Minister Bronwyn Pike is considering changing the law to enable teachers to have the same legal rights as every other public servant, professional or tradesperson, who can appeal against any decision to strip them of their livelihood.

Political correctness in the area of child protection has reached dizzying heights of absurdity in its desire to ensure that students are safe from s-xual misconduct by teachers.

The fictional case of Bill Smith is not an isolated one. And it neatly illustrates why the current law is so unfair and why the Brumby government should change it.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey