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March 25, 2024

Beaumaris Primary School Board of Inquiry Report

The Victorian Board of Inquiry into historical child sexual abuse in Beaumaris Primary School and certain other named government schools has finally released its report.

The Inquiry came off the back of a prolonged call to action from survivors of child sexual abuse in Victorian government schools.

Survivor advocates have long called for an acknowledgement of their harrowing experiences in government schools, and sought answers as to how sexual abuse could have been allowed to happen in government schools for so long.

The Inquiry was extremely limited in that it only recorded survivors’ experiences of child sexual abuse by relevant employees at Beaumaris Primary School during the 1960s and 1970s and certain other government schools between the 1960s and 1990s (see list below). This meant only 6 alleged perpetrators were within the scope of the Inquiry and only three were publicly identified:

  1. Gary Arthur Mitchell
  2. Grahame (Graham) Harold Steele
  3. David Ernest Keith MacGregor


However, the Inquiry’s report made damning findings of the Victorian Department of Education’s overall failure to meet its legal obligations to children in its care, and to prevent and adequately respond to child sexual abuse in its schools when it was reported.

The Inquiry concluded that there were six systemic failures of the Department, which in our view would not have been limited to Beaumaris Primary School:

  1. No policies or procedures concerning child sexual abuse;
  2. No other guidance given to staff as to how to identify, report, manage, respond to and prevent child sexual abuse;
  3. Putting the reputation of the education system above the safety of children;
  4. Lack of training to help staff identify risks of child sexual abuse, or to recognise, raise concerns and appropriately respond to child sexual abuse;
  5. Poor record-keeping and information-sharing practices concerning child sexual abuse; and
  6. No review of allegations of historical child sexual abuse in Victorian government schools.


In its report, the Inquiry has made the following recommendations levelled at the Victorian government, including:

  1. Formally apologise to all affected by historical child sexual abuse in government schools;
  2. Co-design a memorial with survivors and affected community members acknowledging historical child sexual abuse at Beaumaris Primary School;
  3. Establish a state-wide truth-telling and accountability process for victim-survivors of historical child sexual abuse in all Victorian government schools;
  4. Establish a restorative engagement program for adult victim-survivors of child sexual abuse in government schools;
  5. Trauma-informed practises for responding to requests for information and records; and
  6. Improve service responses to adult victim-survivors of child sexual abuse.


Ryan Carlisle Thomas supports the Board of Inquiry’s findings and recommendations, but condemns the narrow scope of the Terms of Reference. This meant that only a fraction of survivors of child sexual abuse in Victorian government schools were given the opportunity to be heard and recognised.

Since the report was published, there has been no firm commitment from the Victorian Government that any of the recommendations will be adopted.

Perhaps most damning is that to this day, the Department of Education has failed to conduct a broader systemic review of historical child sexual abuse allegations across all Victorian government schools.

Recognition of the systemic failures in the public education system to prevent and respond to historical child sexual abuse is not enough. There cannot be healing for survivors and affected community members until full accountability has been taken.

A firm commitment from the Victorian Government to recognise and make reparations to survivors of child abuse in their schools is well overdue. These recommendations need to be publicly accepted, and implemented in full to ensure child sexual abuse in government schools cannot be allowed to happen again.

Ryan Carlisle Thomas will continue to pursue the Victorian Government in claims on behalf of survivor/victims of childhood abuse in government schools, and should this article raise concerns for you, please contact our Institutional Abuse Team.

List of Government schools covered by the Inquiry:

  • Aspendale Primary School
  • Beaconsfield Upper Primary School
  • Beaumaris Primary School
  • Belvedere Park Primary School
  • Bundalong South Primary School (now closed)
  • Bunyip Primary School
  • Chelsea Heights Primary School
  • Cowes Primary School
  • Cranbourne Primary School
  • Dandenong North Primary School
  • Dandenong West Primary School
  • Drouin South Primary School
  • Emerald Primary School
  • Hampton Primary School
  • Kunyung Primary School
  • Mirboo Primary School, now Mirboo North Primary School
  • Moorabbin (Tucker Road) Primary School, now Tucker Road Bentleigh Primary School
  • Moorabbin West Primary School (now closed)
  • Mount View Primary School
  • Ormond East PS now McKinnon Primary School
  • Tarraville Primary School (now closed)
  • Tarwin Lower Primary School
  • Warragul Primary School
  • Warragul Technical School, now Warragul Regional College