A horrific playground incident: how one school failed its students

    Overview - this article contains reports of sexual assaults that may distress some readers.

    Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), the national representative body for children and young people with disability welcomes the light shone by the ABC on this horrific incident, how it was managed by the school and the ongoing challenges and trauma survivors of child sexual abuse face in their recent Background Briefing program.  (18 October 2020).

    We acknowledge that the program and its contents may have brought up painful memories for survivors and those close to them, and we recognise the ongoing trauma and pain caused by sexual abuse.

    We encourage survivors and anyone affected by child sexual abuse to access the free and independent services that are available around the National Redress Scheme, including counselling support from the Blue Knot Foundation and knowmore’s independent legal help.

    Audio story: A horrific playground incident: how one school failed its students

    By Janine Fitzpatrick, on Background Briefing

    Kimberly's sunny, athletic and inquisitive about everything. But for years she harboured terrible secrets about what happened to her. Janine Fitzpatrick investigates why her school failed to heed credible warnings that she was in danger.
    Duration: 39min 42sec Broadcast: 

    By Janine Fitzpatrick, Jessie Davies and Benjamin Sveen

    This article contains reports of sexual assaults that may distress some readers.

    The forgiveness ritual was hastily arranged in the school playground on a cool winter’s day.

    Key points:

    • Kimberly was repeatedly raped and indecently assaulted at school when she was in years 7 and 8
    • The ABC has learnt the school received a warning from a parent that Kimberly was in danger
    • Kimberly's mother says the NSW Department of Education response was "beyond belief"

    A female teacher suggested to 17-year-old Kimberly that if she forgave Tom they could be friends once more. 

    What Kimberly really wanted was never to see the boy again, but she did as the teacher recommended. She told him she forgave him. 

    "OK," Tom said, before wandering off into the school grounds where he had indecently assaulted her and another student had raped her.

    Two years after leaving the school, Kimberly wants you to know how she survived a traumatic four-year ordeal in the supposed care of the NSW public education system.

    It's an ordeal many say could have been prevented and it's raised questions about why the school ignored warnings.


    Counselling and other supports are available

    • National Redress Scheme: The material on this section of our website may raise issues for you or someone you know, or bring to mind past experiences and trauma. Children and young people with disability, their family, carers and supporters might need immediate assistance, support or to talk to someone when they are ready to do so. A range of free support services are available.

      If you are in an emergency situation and need immediate support, please contact emergency services by calling 000 (triple zero).

      For other supports, please contact one of these services:

      • Lifeline: 13 11 14. Lifeline provides 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services.
      • 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732. 1800RESPECT provides 24/7 support for people affected by sexual assault and domestic or family violence.
      • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800. Kids Helpline provides 24/7 telephone counselling for children and young people aged five to 25 years.
      • MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978. MensLine provides 24/7 telephone and online support, information and referrals for men.
      • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467. The Suicide Call Back Service provides 24/7 telephone crisis support for people at risk of suicide, carers and the bereaved, as well as online information and resources.
      • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36. Beyond Blue provides 24/7 telephone mental health support and online chat from 4pm to 10pm AEST.
      • headspace: 1800 650 890. headspace provides online and telephone support and counselling to young people aged 12 to 25 years, and their families and friends. The service operates between 9am and 1am.

      Information about free and confidential services that can assist you with an application, and further information about the Redress Scheme, can be found here.